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tr.v. de·tained, de·tain·ing, de·tains
1. To keep from proceeding; delay or retard: Our friends were detained by heavy traffic.
2. To keep in custody or confinement: The police detained several suspects for questioning.
3. Archaic To retain or withhold (payment or property, for example).

[Middle English deteinen, from Old French detenir, from Vulgar Latin *dētenīre, from Latin dētinēre : dē-, de- + tenēre, to hold; see ten- in Indo-European roots.]

de·tain′ment n.


References in classic literature ?
I was detained by the way, but I promised to spend Christmas with you, and here I am.
The woman detained Lena at the door to say apologetically:
The elder maiden is conveyed to a neighboring people, whose lodges are situate beyond yonder black pinnacle of rock; while the younger is detained among the women of the Hurons, whose dwellings are but two short miles hence, on a table-land, where the fire had done the office of the axe, and prepared the place for their reception.
I overtook her, I remember, on the staircase; we went down together, and at the bottom I detained her, holding her there with a hand on her arm.
We are going to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and would prefer not to be detained.
Owing to the peculiar form of the shore on the Kentucky side, the land bending far out into the water, the ice had been lodged and detained in great quantities, and the narrow channel which swept round the bend was full of ice, piled one cake over another, thus forming a temporary barrier to the descending ice, which lodged, and formed a great, undulating raft, filling up the whole river, and extending almost to the Kentucky shore.
During the week, I had entered into an engagement with a number of young friends to start from Baltimore to the camp ground early Saturday evening; and being detained by my em- ployer, I was unable to get down to Master Hugh's without disappointing the company.
Goddard's today; and she may be detained by a visitor, without thinking him at all a tiresome wretch.
John, who had followed, and would have detained me.
I have been detained by"--the nephew stopped a moment in his answer--"various business.
It sought to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it.
Agnes was in the drawing-room, waiting for her father, who was detained by someone in his office.