- 1detain somebody to keep someone in an official place, such as a police station, a prison, or a hospital, and prevent them from leaving One man has been detained for questioning.
- 2detain somebody (formal) to delay someone or prevent them from going somewhere I'm sorry—he'll be late; he's been detained at a meeting. see also detention
NAmE//dɪˈteɪn//Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they detain
he / she / it detains
past simple detained
-ing form detaining