- to hold or retain in one's possession; hold as one's own: If you like it, keep it. Keep the change.
- to hold or have the use of for a period of time: You can keep it for the summer.
- to hold in a given place; store: You can keep your things in here.
- to maintain (some action), especially in accordance with specific requirements, a promise, etc.: to keep watch; to keep step.
- to cause to continue in a given position, state, course, or action: to keep a light burning; to keep a child happy.
- to maintain in condition or order, as by care and labor: He keeps his car in good condition.
- to maintain in usable or edible condition; preserve: If you want to keep meat for a long time, freeze it.
- to hold in custody or under guard, as a prisoner: They kept him in jail.
- to cause to stay in a particular place; prevent or restrain from departure: The work kept her at the office.
- to have regularly in stock and for sale: to keep a large supply of machine parts.
- to maintain in one's service or for one's use or enjoyment: to keep a car and chauffeur.
- to associate with: She keeps bad company.
- to have the care, charge, or custody of: She keeps my dog when I travel.
- to refrain from disclosing; withhold from the knowledge of others: to keep a secret.
- to withhold from use; reserve; save: I'll keep this toy until you learn to behave. Keep the good wine for company.
- to hold back or restrain: They kept the child from talking. Nothing can keep him from doing it.
- to maintain control of; regulate: to keep the peace; to keep your temper.
- to maintain by writing: to keep a diary.
- to record (business transactions, daily occurrences, etc.) regularly: to keep records; to keep a list of visitors.
- to observe; pay obedient regard to (a law, rule, promise, etc.).
- to conform to; follow; fulfill: to keep one's word.
- to observe (a season, festival, etc.) with formalities or rites: to keep Christmas.
- to maintain or carry on, as an establishment, business, etc.; manage.
- to guard; protect: He kept her from harm.
- to maintain or support: It costs more each year to keep a house.
- to support or contribute to the support of in return for sexual or other favors.
- to take care of; tend: to keep a vegetable garden.
- to raise (livestock): These farmers keep goats and cattle.
- to remain in (a place, spot, etc.): Please keep your seats.
- to maintain one's position in or on: He kept the job.
- to continue to follow (a path, track, course, etc.).
- to maintain in active existence, as an assembly, court, or fair.
- to continue in an action, course, position, state, etc.: to keep in sight; to keep going.
- to remain, or continue to be, as specified: to keep cool.
- to remain or stay in a particular place: to keep indoors.
- to continue unimpaired or without spoiling: The food will keep on ice.
- to admit of being reserved for a future occasion: I have more to tell you, but it will keep.
- to keep oneself or itself as specified (followed by away, back, off, out, etc.): Keep off the grass.
- to restrain oneself; refrain (usually followed by from): Try to keep from smiling.
- board and lodging; subsistence; support: to work for one's keep.
- the innermost and strongest structure or central tower of a medieval castle.
- keeps, (used with a singular verb) a game of marbles in which the players keep the marbles they have won.
- keep at, to persist in; be steadfast: You'll never master your French unless you keep at it.
- keep back,
- to hold in check; restrain: The dikes kept back the floodwaters.
- to stay away from: The crowds would not keep back from the barrier.
- to refuse to reveal: The prisoner was keeping back vital information.
- keep down,
- to hold under control or at a reduced or acceptable level: to keep your voice down.
- to prevent from going up or increasing: to keep prices down.
- keep in with, to stay in someone's favor; be on good terms with: They are social climbers who make certain to keep in with all the right people.
- keep on, to continue; persist: If you keep on singing they'll ask you to leave.
- keep to,
- to adhere to; conform to: She keeps to the rules.
- to confine oneself to: to keep to one's bed.
- keep up,
- to maintain an equal rate of speed, activity, or progress with another or others.
- to persevere; continue.
- to maintain the good condition of; keep in repair.
- Also keep up on/with.to stay informed: to keep up on current events.
- to match one's friends, neighbors, business associates, etc., in success, affluence, etc.
- for keeps, Informal.
- under the stipulation that one keeps one's winnings.
- with serious intent or purpose.
- finally; permanently: They decided to settle the argument for keeps.
- keep books, to maintain financial records.
- keep tab/tabs on. tab1(def 15).
- keep time. time(def 50).
- keep to oneself,
- to remain aloof from the society of others.
- to hold (something) as secret or confidential: I'll tell you only if you promise to keep it to yourself.
- keep track of. track(def 38).
Origin of keep
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- (foll by a gerund) to prevent or restrain (oneself or another); refrain or cause to refrain
- (tr) to protect or preserve from
- (tr) to have or retain possession of
- (tr) to have temporary possession or charge ofkeep my watch for me during the game
- (tr) to store in a customary placeI keep my books in the desk
- to remain or cause to remain in a specified state or conditionkeep the dog quiet; keep ready
- to continue or cause to continuekeep the beat; keep in step
- (tr) to have or take charge or care ofkeep the shop for me till I return
- (tr) to look after or maintain for use, pleasure, etcto keep chickens; keep two cars
- (tr) to provide for the upkeep or livelihood of
- (tr) to support financially, esp in return for sexual favourshe keeps a mistress in the country
- to confine or detain or be confined or detained
- to withhold or reserve or admit of withholding or reservingyour news will keep till later
- (tr) to refrain from divulging or violatingto keep a secret; keep one's word
- to preserve or admit of preservation
- (tr sometimes foll by up) to observe with due rites or ceremoniesto keep Christmas
- (tr) to maintain by writing regular records into keep a diary
- (when intr, foll by in, on, to, etc) to stay in, on, or at (a place or position)please keep your seats; keep to the path
- (tr) to associate with (esp in the phrase keep bad company)
- (tr) to maintain in existenceto keep court in the palace
- (tr) mainly British to have habitually in stockthis shop keeps all kinds of wool
- how are you keeping? how are you?
- keep tabs on informal to keep a watchful eye on
- keep track of See track (def. 15)
- keep time See time (def. 42)
- keep wicket to play as wicketkeeper in the game of cricket
- you can keep it informal I have no interest in what you are offering
- living or supporthe must work for his keep
- archaic charge or care
- Also called: dungeon, donjon the main tower within the walls of a medieval castle or fortress
- completely; permanently
- for the winner or possessor to keep permanently
Word Origin and History for keep from
late Old English cepan "to seize, hold," also "to observe," from Proto-Germanic *kopijanan, but with no certain connection to other languages. It possibly is related to Old English capian "to look," from Proto-Germanic *kap- (cepan was used c.1000 to render Latin observare), which would make the basic sense "to keep an eye on."
The word prob. belongs primarily to the vulgar and non-literary stratum of the language; but it comes up suddenly into literary use c.1000, and that in many senses, indicating considerable previous development. [OED]
Sense of "preserve, maintain" is from mid-14c. Meaning "to maintain in proper order" is from 1550s; meaning "financially support and privately control" (usually in reference to mistresses) is from 1540s. Related: Kept; keeping.
mid-13c., "care or heed in watching," from keep (v.). Meaning "innermost stronghold of a tower" is from 1580s, perhaps a translation of Italian tenazza, with a notion of "that which keeps" (someone or something); the sense of "food required to keep a person or animal" is attested from 1801. For keeps "completely, for good" is American English colloquial, from 1861.
Idioms and Phrases with keep from
Withhold; also, prevent. For example, What information are you keeping from me? or Please keep your dog from running through our garden. [c. 1340]
Restrain oneself, hold oneself back, as in I can hardly keep from laughing. [c. 1340]
In addition to the idioms beginning with keep
- keep abreast of
- keep a civil tongue in one's head
- keep after
- keep a low profile
- keep an eye on
- keep an eye out for
- keep a sharp lookout
- keep a stiff upper lip
- keep a straight face
- keep at
- keep at arm's length
- keep a weather eye out
- keep back
- keep body and soul together
- keep company
- keep cool
- keep down
- keep from
- keep house
- keeping up with the Joneses
- keep in mind
- keep in the dark
- keep in touch
- keep in with
- keep it up
- keep late hours
- keep off
- keep on
- keep one's chin up
- keep one's cool
- keep one's distance
- keep oneself to oneself
- keep one's end up
- keep one's eye on the ball
- keep one's eyes open
- keep one's fingers crossed
- keep one's hand in
- keep one's hands off
- keep one's head
- keep one's mouth shut
- keep one's nose clean
- keep one's nose to the grindstone
- keep one's own counsel
- keep one's powder dry
- keep one's shirt on
- keep one's temper
- keep one's wits about one
- keep one's word
- keep pace
- keep posted
- keep quiet
- keep tabs on
- keep the ball rolling
- keep the lid on
- keep the peace
- keep the wolf from the door
- keep time
- keep to
- keep to oneself
- keep track
- keep under one's hat
- keep under wraps
- keep up
- keep watch
- keep your . . .