keep time

Maintain the correct tempo and rhythm of music; also, mark the rhythm by foot-tapping, hand movements, or the like. For example, The children love to keep time by clapping their hands. This usage dates from the late 1500s and is occasionally put figuratively, as Ben Jonson did in Cynthia's Revels (1699): “Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears.”

Words Nearby keep time

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

How to use keep time in a sentence

  • Sam repeated the push, careful to keep time with the stub and push always just as it began to swing away from him.

    Two Little Savages | Ernest Thompson Seton
  • Clocks and watches are often called “timekeepers,” but they do not keep time.