• synonyms


[fawrt, fohrt]
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  1. a strong or fortified place occupied by troops and usually surrounded by walls, ditches, and other defensive works; a fortress; fortification.
  2. any permanent army post.
  3. (formerly) a trading post.
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  1. hold the fort,
    1. to defend one's position against attack or criticism.
    2. to maintain the existing state of affairs.
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Origin of fort

1550–60; < Middle French, noun use of adj. fort strong < Latin fortis
Can be confusedfort forte (see pronunciation note at forte1)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for hold the fort

hover, linger, stop, live, continue, endure, stand, persist, last, prevail, survive, wait, reside, settle, hang, delay, remain, firm, obstinate, reserved

British Dictionary definitions for hold the fort


  1. a fortified enclosure, building, or position able to be defended against an enemy
  2. hold the fort informal to maintain or guard something temporarily
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Word Origin for fort

C15: from Old French, from fort (adj) strong, from Latin fortis
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

Word Origin and History for hold the fort



mid-15c., "fortified place, stronghold," from Middle French fort, from noun use in Old French of fort (adj.) "strong, fortified" (10c.), from Latin fortis "strong, mighty, firm, steadfast," from Old Latin forctus, possibly from PIE root *bheregh- "high, elevated," with derivatives referring to hills and hill-forts (cf. Sanskrit brmhati "strengthens, elevates," Old High German berg "hill;" see barrow (n.2)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hold the fort

hold the fort

Assume responsibility, especially in another's absence; also, maintain a secure position. For example, Harry did a good job of holding the fort until his boss recovered, or Can you hold the fort in the kitchen? This expression has been traced to an order given by General William Tecumseh Sherman in 1864, which was repeated as “Hold the fort [against the enemy at Allatoona] at all costs, for I am coming.”

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see hold the fort.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.