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[kee-per] /ˈki pər/
a person who guards or watches, as at a prison or gate.
a person who assumes responsibility for another's behavior:
He refused to be his brother's keeper.
a person who owns or operates a business (usually used in combination):
a hotelkeeper.
a person who is responsible for the maintenance of something (often used in combination):
a zookeeper; a groundskeeper.
a person charged with responsibility for the preservation and conservation of something valuable, as a curator or game warden.
a person who conforms to or abides by a requirement:
a keeper of his word.
a fish that is of sufficient size to be caught and retained without violating the law.
Football. a play in which the quarterback retains the ball and runs with it, usually after faking a hand-off or pass.
something that serves to hold in place, retain, etc., as on a door lock.
something that lasts well, as a fruit.
an iron or steel bar placed across the poles of a permanent horseshoe magnet for preserving the strength of the magnet during storage.
Origin of keeper
First recorded in 1250-1300, keeper is from the Middle English word keper. See keep, -er1
Related forms
keeperless, adjective
keepership, noun
underkeeper, noun
1. warden, jailer. 2. custodian, guardian. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for under-keeper
Historical Examples
  • Toomer, the under-keeper, went with him to the place, accompanied by a bloodhound.

    Anecdotes of Dogs Edward Jesse
  • There are the two terriers and the under-keeper's Irish mongrel that's on to rats like a flash.

  • But the man who had helped the lad to administer the poisoned clyster, the under-keeper Weston, was at hand.

    She Stands Accused Victor MacClure
  • Here also, in all probability, was the man who had fired the shot that killed the under-keeper.

    Mrs. Severn, Vol. 1 (of 3) Mary Elizabeth Carter
  • A casual question of mine about the game conditions elicited from him the information that he was an under-keeper at the Castle.

    The Man with the Clubfoot Valentine Williams
  • The Justices looked surprised, as the under-keeper had the character of being an honest, truth-telling man.

    Christmas Stories Edward Berens
  • I've heard Giles say so to the under-keeper and call him 'a regular slaughterer' and 'a true-blood Englishman.'

    The Mahatma and the Hare H. Rider Haggard
  • She turned and left him, while Appleby, who went down, found Godfrey Palliser talking to the under-keeper on the terrace.

    The Dust of Conflict David Goodger (
  • The old house-keeper, Madame Paillard, nodded and pointed to her son, the under-keeper.

    Lorraine Robert W. Chambers
  • And let him only speak, and the place of under-keeper shall be his, damn me twice over if it sha'n't!

    The Road to Paris Robert Neilson Stephens
British Dictionary definitions for under-keeper


a person in charge of animals, esp in a zoo
a person in charge of a museum, collection, or section of a museum
a person in charge of other people, such as a warder in a jail
a person who keeps something
a device, such as a clip, for keeping something in place
a soft iron or steel bar placed across the poles of a permanent magnet to close the magnetic circuit when it is not in use
Derived Forms
keeperless, adjective
keepership, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Contemporary definitions for under-keeper

See trapper's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for under-keeper



c.1300 (late 13c. as a surname), "one who has charge of some person or thing, warden," agent noun from keep (v.). Sense of "one who carries on some business" is from mid-15c. Sporting sense (originally cricket) is from 1744. Meaning "something (or someone) worth keeping" is attested by 1999. Brother's keeper is from Genesis iv:9.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for under-keeper



Someone or something worth keeping or trying to keep: This husband's a keeper

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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