Meaning of “retain” in the English Dictionary

"retain" in British English

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retainverb [ T ]

uk /rɪˈteɪn/ us /rɪˈteɪn/

C2 formal to keep or continue to have something:

She has lost her battle to retain control of the company.
He managed to retain his dignity throughout the performance.
She succeeded in retaining her lead in the second half of the race.
I have a good memory and am able to retain (= remember) facts easily.

formal If a substance retains something, such as heat or water, it continues to hold or contain it:

The sea retains the sun's warmth longer than the land.
See also

specialized law to get the services of a lawyer by paying them before you need them

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(Definition of “retain” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"retain" in American English

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retainverb [ T ]

us /rɪˈteɪn/

to keep or continue to have something:

Francis retained control of the company.
His capacity to retain (= remember) facts was as keen as ever, but he had trouble remembering people’s names.

(Definition of “retain” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"retain" in Business English

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retainverb [ T ]

uk /rɪˈteɪn/ us

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.

(Definition of “retain” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)