re·tain / riˈtān/ • v. continue to have (something); keep possession of: built in 1830, the house retains many of its original features. ∎ not abolish, discard, or alter: the rights of defendants must be retained. ∎ keep in one's memory: I retained a few French words and phrases. ∎ absorb and continue to hold (a substance): limestone is known to retain water. ∎ [often as adj.] (retaining) keep (something) in place; hold fixed: remove the retaining bar. ∎ keep (someone) engaged in one's service: he has been retained as a freelance. ∎ secure the services of (a person, esp. an attorney) with a preliminary payment: retain an attorney to handle the client's business.DERIVATIVES: re·tain·a·bil·i·ty / riˌtānəˈbilətē/ n.re·tain·a·ble adj.re·tain·ment n.