retain re‧tain [rɪˈteɪn] verb [transitive]
1. to keep something or to continue to have it:

• A duplicate copy of the invoice will be retained for record purposes.

• Following the merger, the family will retain a 1.9% stake in the company.

2. HUMAN RESOURCES to continue to employ people after a company has changed ownership, reduced in size etc:

• The new company retained all the staff employed at the time of the takeover.

3. if a company retains a lawyer or other specialist, it pays them to do work for it, now or in the future:

• The company will retain an auditing firm for six months to review its business practices.

* * *

retain UK US /rɪˈteɪn/ verb [T]
to keep or continue to have something, especially a position or money, or control of something: »

Salespeople have developed novel ways to use the Web to reach or retain customers.


You retain the right to take legal action if you do not accept his decision.

retain control/ownership/possession »

The group will retain control of the business.

retain a stake/an interest »

The family retains a minority stake in the company.

retain your job/post »

Atkinson retained his post in the enlarged banking group.

HR to continue to employ people in a company or organization: retain staff/talent/employees »

We will retain all of the employees currently employed at the plant.


Companies will achieve a competitive advantage by attracting and retaining the best talent.


Recruiting and retaining good staff will be among his top priorities.

MANAGEMENT, HR to employ a lawyer, consultant (= someone paid to give expert advice or training), etc. by paying them before you need them: »

The contractor had failed to disclose that he had retained an outside lobbyist.


Smith had retained a lawyer and filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

retain sb as sth »

Van Hellemond resigned, though the NHL has retained him as a consultant.

to keep a record, document, etc. that might be needed in the future: »

The office must retain all e-mails pertaining to audits for at least 11 years.


He said he protected himself by retaining all the records on the project.


Please retain your receipt for future reference.

Financial and business terms. 2012.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • RETAIN — is a mainframe based database system, accessed via IBM 3270 terminals (or more likely, emulators), used internally within IBM providing service support to IBM field personnel and customers.The acronym RETAIN stands for REmote Technical Assistance …   Wikipedia

  • Retain — Re*tain (r[ e]*t[=a]n ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Retained} (r[ e]*t[=a]nd ); p. pr. & vb. n. {Retaining}.] [F. retainir, L. retinere; pref. re re + tenere to hold, keep. See {Tenable}, and cf. {Rein} of a bridle, {Retention}, {Retinue}.] 1. To… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • retain — re·tain /ri tān/ vt 1: to keep in possession or use 2: to keep in one s pay or service; specif: to employ (as a lawyer) by paying a retainer Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • retain — [v1] hold on to physically or mentally absorb, bear in mind, cling to, clutch, contain, detain, enjoy, grasp, hand onto, have, hold, hold fast, husband, keep, keep in mind, keep possession, maintain, memorize, mind, own, possess, preserve, put… …   New thesaurus

  • retain — [ri tān′] vt. [ME reteynen < OFr retenir < LL * retenere, for L retinere < re , back + tenere, to hold: see THIN] 1. to hold or keep in possession 2. to keep in a fixed state or condition 3. to continue to have or hold in [to retain… …   English World dictionary

  • Retain — Re*tain , v. i. 1. To belong; to pertain. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] A somewhat languid relish, retaining to bitterness. Boyle. [1913 Webster] 2. To keep; to continue; to remain. [Obs.] Donne. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • retain — (v.) late 14c., from O.Fr. retenir, from L. retinere hold back, from re back (see RE (Cf. re )) + tenere to hold (see TENET (Cf. tenet)). Meaning keep (another) attached to one s person, keep in service is from mid 15c.; specifically of lawyers… …   Etymology dictionary

  • retain — *keep, keep back, keep out, detain, withhold, reserve, hold, hold back Analogous words: *have, hold, own, possess, enjoy: *save, preserve, conserve Contrasted words: *discard, shed, cast: *relinquish, surrender, abandon, yield: * …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • retain — ► VERB 1) continue to have; keep possession of. 2) absorb and continue to hold (a substance). 3) keep in place; hold fixed. 4) keep engaged in one s service. 5) secure the services of (a barrister) with a preliminary payment. DERIVATIVES… …   English terms dictionary

  • retain — 01. It can be difficult to [retain] a lot of new vocabulary. 02. The [retention] of information is aided by repetition. 03. With our new thermos, your coffee will [retain] its temperature 25% longer than in a standard thermos. 04. Maria has… …   Grammatical examples in English

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