- 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.
- 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.
- to adhere to; conform to: She keeps to the rules.
- to confine oneself to: to keep to one's bed.
- 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.
OTHER WORDS FOR keep
Idioms about keep
- under the stipulation that one keeps one's winnings.
- with serious intent or purpose.
- finally; permanently: They decided to settle the argument for keeps.
Origin of keep
synonym study for keep
OTHER WORDS FROM keepkeep·a·ble, adjectivekeep·a·bil·i·ty, noun
Words nearby keep
What is a basic definition of keep?
Keep means to hold on to something and not let it leave your possession. Keep can also mean to store something in a certain place. And keep can mean to continue an action or to remain in a certain state. Keep has many other senses as a verb and a few as a noun and is used in a large number of idioms.
If you keep something, it means that you are making sure it stays yours and doesn’t leave your possession. For example, if you don’t give money to someone, then you are keeping it. The past tense of keep is kept.
- Real-life examples: Most people prefer to keep money rather than give it away or spend it. If a childhood toy means a lot to you, you probably want to keep it and not throw it away. If nobody claims a lost item, then the store or police will usually let the finder keep it.
- Used in a sentence: I’m going to keep this old hat I found rather than throw it away.
Keep can also mean to store something in a certain area.
- Real-life examples: Almost everyone keeps perishable food in a refrigerator. You might keep your clothes on the floor, although your mom wants them in a dresser. People keep money in a safe or bank account. The police keep prisoners in jail.
- Used in a sentence: Aylia keeps her priceless jewelry in a lockbox.
Keep is also used to mean to continue doing something. This sense of keep usually implies that the action will never stop until something else happens. For example, a leaky sink will keep, that is, continue, dripping until someone fixes it.
- Real-life examples: A business will keep making money as long as it can. Most pets will keep staring at you until you either finish eating or give them some food. The moon will keep rotating around Earth unless something stops it.
- Used in a sentence: Sasha is persistent and will keep hitting that piñata until candy comes out.
In a similar sense, keep can also mean to remain in a certain state or condition.
- Real-life examples: People store ice cream in a freezer so it keeps cold. Most people find it hard to keep calm during a crisis. People wear jackets or use umbrellas to keep dry during a rainstorm.
- Used in a sentence: The men gathered around the fire to keep warm.
Where does keep come from?
The first records of keep come from before the year 1000. It ultimately comes from the Old English verb cēpan, meaning “to observe.”
Did you know … ?
What are some other forms related to keep?
- keepable (adjective)
- keepability (noun)
What are some synonyms for keep?
What are some words that share a root or word element with keep?
What are some words that often get used in discussing keep?
How is keep used in real life?
Keep is an extremely common word that is often used to mean to hold on to something or to continue to do something.
Idk if I should keep my EDC ticket till next year or transfer it for October😫
— Brian_Bananas_🍌🍌 (@_briankix) April 22, 2021
Trying to take a nap but my dogs keep bothering me. I keep telling them to get a life but they won't listen!
— Christel Khalil (@ChristelAdnana) September 18, 2009
Your friendly meteorologist reminding you tonight that there is no such thing as earthquake weather. Keep calm and carry on.
— Drew Tuma (@DrewTumaABC7) August 17, 2020
Try using keep!
Is keep used correctly in the following sentence?
I keep a spare tire in the trunk of my car in case I ever need one.
How to use keep in a sentence
Domestically, the prime minister maintains the dubious line that he is the only man who can keep the still-fragile peace.
“Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV,” she continued.
I think if you keep trying to do things the same way it becomes diminishing returns.
Ney said McDonnell needs to “keep a stiff lip” and stay in close contact with family members.Abramoff’s Advice for Virginia’s New Jailhouse Guv|Tim Mak, Jackie Kucinich|January 7, 2015|DAILY BEAST
I keep meeting more and more people where that seems to be the case.Coffee Talk with Fred Armisen: On ‘Portlandia,’ Meeting Obama, and Taylor Swift’s Greatness|Marlow Stern|January 7, 2015|DAILY BEAST
She was growing accustomed to like shocks, but she could not keep the mounting color back from her cheeks.The Awakening and Selected Short Stories|Kate Chopin
And it was no light task, then, for six hundred men to keep the peace on a thousand miles of frontier.Raw Gold|Bertrand W. Sinclair
He will keep the sayings of renowned men, and will enter withal into the subtilties of parables.The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version|Various
Keep closely covered with a bell glass and, in a few weeks, more or less, the baby Ferns will start to put in an appearance.How to Know the Ferns|S. Leonard Bastin
My thought was to keep pushing in troops from "W" Beach until the enemy had fallen back to save themselves from being cut off.Gallipoli Diary, Volume I|Ian Hamilton
British Dictionary definitions for keep
- completely; permanently
- for the winner or possessor to keep permanently
Word Origin for keep
Other Idioms and Phrases with keep
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 . . .
- earn one's keep
- finders keepers, losers weepers
- for keeps
- in keeping
- (keep someone) in the dark