verb (used with object), kept, keep·ing.
verb (used without object), kept, keep·ing.
- 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.
- 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
Examples from the Web for keep
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
That was the sole purpose, although I and the rest of us are getting special instruction to keep us occupied.Warning from the Stars|Ron Cocking
Maybe we'll have to relay him some instrument checks, to keep him busy.Suzy|Watson Parker
Keep in mind that "the very ferocity of the natives of Tierra del Fuego protected them."The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn|John R. Spears
All the others, complaining of being sick, took their rest, except Mr. Hayward and Mr. Elphinston whom I directed to keep watch.A Voyage to the South Sea|William Bligh
"That will give you some time to rest, mother," said Paul, who wanted to keep back his good news for a while.Paul the Peddler|Horatio Alger, Jr.
British Dictionary definitions for keep
verb keeps, keeping or kept (kɛpt)
- completely; permanently
- for the winner or possessor to keep permanently
Word Origin for keep
Word Origin and History for keep (1 of 2)
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.
Word Origin and History for keep (1 of 2)
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
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