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 keeps
Like his old man, he keeps it reined in, but when talking about fishing, a true regret seeps out.The Story Behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile|Robert Ward|January 3, 2015|DAILY BEAST
I notice he moves at a slightly slower pace than everyone else, and keeps his gestures compact.His First Day Out Of Jail After 40 Years: Adjusting To Life Outside|Justin Rohrlich|January 3, 2015|DAILY BEAST
The possibility that the same outcome could happen another way -- namely a guy asks me out -- keeps me from taking action.Random Hook-Ups or Dry Spells: Why Millennials Flunk College Dating|Ellie Schaack|January 1, 2015|DAILY BEAST
The Bureau keeps publicly condemning Pyongyang for the Sony hack.FBI Won’t Stop Blaming North Korea for Sony Hack -- Despite New Evidence|Shane Harris|December 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Congress keeps funding it ad hoc—but when the GOP takes over the Senate next year, who knows.To GOP Congress, as Usual, It’s Welfare on the Chopping Block|Monica Potts|December 25, 2014|DAILY BEAST
It does not rob his joy of one rapture, but it keeps it from becoming careless.The Expositor's Bible: The Psalms, Vol. 2|Alexander Maclaren
Johnny Upright keeps one, as I well know, she being my first acquaintance in this particular portion of the world.The People of the Abyss|Jack London
But when a woman like Mary does get her bearings she has 'em for keeps.Plain Mary Smith|Henry Wallace Phillips
He pays little attention to her, except to snap at her, and keeps on after the kids.Jack, the Young Ranchman|George Bird Grinnell
That keeps him going—that, and a trophy he once achieved by winning the beaten eight division of the sixth sixteen.Penguin Persons & Peppermints|Walter Prichard Eaton
British Dictionary definitions for keeps
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 keeps (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 keeps (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 keeps
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