The Meaning of Retention: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of retention? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word retention, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word retention mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word retention is a noun that means the holding onto of recall of something. This can be used literally to refer to the urinary bladder retention or something similar, or figuratively to refer to mental retention like talented employees’ memory or another figurative storage or holding onto something. Retention is three syllables – re-ten-tion, and the pronunciation of retention is rɪˈtɛnʃən

There are many forms of retention including moisture retention, investors or a contractor who look for commerce or customer retention in an agreed period, grade retention, the retention of a sum of money as a safeguard against faults, retention of urine, student retention after a year of school, employee retention, retention of bodily waste such as faeces, retention of nutrients, the inability of a person to produce a body of urine and having urinary retention due to abnormal holding, the retention of an amount of money, the moisture retentivity of soil, someone with a good memory like med advanced students, high school graduation retention, retention of deductibles in ownership, student retention from people who had an integrated postsecondary education data system and have an associate degree in education statistics, workplace retention and customer loyalty in an insurance policy, and more.

There are many different languages that also use words that mean retention. You may notice that some of these translations look and sound similar to the word retention. These cognates are often formed when two words of different languages share a common origin, such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word retention is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Irish: coinneáil‎ (fem.)
  •  Russian: удержа́ние‎ (neut.), удержива́ние‎ (neut.), сохране́ние‎ (neut.)
  •  Finnish: säilyttäminen‎
  •  Estonian: säilitamine‎
  •  French: rétention‎ (fem.)
  •  Spanish: retención‎ (fem.)
  •  German: Zurückhaltung‎ (fem.)
  •  Romanian: reținere‎ (fem.), retenție‎ (fem.) (medical)
  •  Dutch: vasthouding‎, retentie‎
  •  Italian: conservazione‎ (fem.)

What are synonyms and antonyms of retention?

There are many different words that can be used in place of the word retention. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself or if you are simply looking to expand your vocabulary! This list of synonyms is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  holding power
  •  custody
  •  confinement
  •  adhesiveness
  •  reserve
  •  cohesiveness
  •  grip
  •  arrest
  •  detention
  •  occupation
  •  anamnesis
  •  dominance
  •  storage
  •  persistence
  •  continuing
  •  authority
  •  hold
  •  bust
  •  memory
  •  retentiveness
  •  conservation
  •  dead-eye
  •  thought
  •  retaining
  •  holding back
  •  maintaining
  •  maintenance
  •  continuation
  •  impregnation
  •  assiduity
  •  perpetuation
  •  preserve
  •  recollection
  •  sustention
  •  monopoly
  •  keep
  •  tenacity
  •  awareness
  •  influence
  •  save
  •  drinking in
  •  exclusive possession
  •  holding
  •  withholding
  •  reminiscence
  •  detaining
  •  continued
  •  impropriation
  •  flashback
  •  reserved
  •  preservation
  •  memorising
  •  keeping
  •  retentivity
  •  chosen
  •  retrospection
  •  store
  •  retain
  •  engagement
  •  recall
  •  subconsciousness
  •  archiver
  •  remembrance
  •  archiving
  •  consciousness
  •  recognition
  •  detainment
  •  reflection
  •  safekeeping
  •  impediment
  •  maintained
  •  adopted
  •  camera-eye
  •  holdings
  •  remain
  •  consistency
  •  restraint
  •  captivity
  •  care
  •  absorption
  •  apprehension
  •  catch
  •  mindfulness
  •  maintain
  •  held
  •  memories
  •  memorization
  •  cognizance
  •  bullheadedness
  •  possession
  •  arrestment
  •  remembering
  •  reservation
  •  charge
  •  occupancy
  •  abnegation
  •  retainment
  •  nonobservance
  •  arrestation
  •  incarceration

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word retention. These are called antonyms, which are also a useful English language grammatical device to know if you are trying to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  sovereignty
  •  bargain and sale
  •  screening out
  •  decontrol
  •  sacque
  •  consignation
  •  demobilisation
  •  refoulement
  •  power of choice
  •  cast
  •  enfeoffment
  •  dislodgment
  •  abandonment
  •  liberations
  •  deliverance
  •  deallocation
  •  vacating
  •  liberty
  •  removal
  •  deployment
  •  giving over
  •  conveyance
  •  disenthrallment
  •  unfettering
  •  bestowment
  •  setting-free
  •  deliveries
  •  impartment
  •  abolition
  •  releasability
  •  distribution
  •  transference
  •  conveyancing
  •  dereliction
  •  share-out
  •  delivery
  •  delivery dispensation
  •  ejections
  •  unshackling
  •  dismissals
  •  freeing
  •  separation
  •  spillage
  •  marketing
  •  demobilise
  •  unloosing
  •  unbinding
  •  political independence
  •  discharge
  •  demobilizing
  •  deposal
  •  amortizement
  •  assignment
  •  being dismissed
  •  enfranchising
  •  lease and release
  •  housecleaning
  •  bandoleer
  •  abalienation
  •  deeding
  •  unchaining
  •  abdicator
  •  release
  •  uncaging
  •  emotional release
  •  liberation
  •  bequeathal
  •  secondment
  •  help
  •  old heave-ho
  •  allocation
  •  pay-as-you-go
  •  hand
  •  demobilized
  •  conferral
  •  disposition
  •  dealing out
  •  dismissal
  •  ablation
  •  sackful
  •  divesture

What is the origin of the word retention?

According to Etymonline, the word retention has been used since the c14 Middle English retencioun/retencion which comes from the Old French retention/retentiōn and Latin retentionem, the nominative Latin retentio/Latin retentiō, the Latin retentus and the past-participle stem of retinere/past participle of retinēre which also formed retain. 

How can the word retention be used in a sentence?

The word retention can be used in many ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to remember their definitions. You can also try making flashcards or quizzes for yourself to test your knowledge of the English language. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are several examples of retention to get you started.

The student made insufficient educational progress and had low retention of the concepts. 

They did not have enough retention of their earnings and dividends to pay their taxes. The accounting profits were in the negative and the shareholders were furious.

Facebook and Twitter saw retention rates go down with the number of students in higher education who found themselves preferring TikTok instead.

The company struggled with the ratio of retention of jobs when they forced everyone to come back into the office.

Overall, the word retention means the power of retaining or holding onto something. This word is Latin in origin. Try using this new word of the day in a sentence today!


  1. retention | Origin and meaning of retention | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. Retention definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  3. Retention antonyms – 81 Opposites of Retention | Power Thesaurus  
  4. retention: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  5. Retention synonyms – 414 Words and Phrases for Retention | Power Thesaurus