get hold of,
    1. to get a hold on: Get hold of the railing.
    2. to communicate with, especially by telephone: If she's not at home, try to get hold of her at the office.
    hold one's own. own(def 11).
    hold one's peace. peace(def 14).
    hold one's tongue. tongue(def 33).
    hold water. water(def 37).
    no holds barred, without limits, rules, or restraints.
    on hold,
    1. in or into a state of temporary interruption or suspension: The project will be put on hold until funds become available.
    2. or into a state of temporary interruption in a telephone connection: I'm putting you on hold to answer another call.Compare call waiting.

Origin of hold

before 900; Middle English holden, Old English h(e)aldan; cognate with Old Frisian, Old Norse halda, Old Saxon, Gothic haldan, Old High German haltan (German halten)
Related formshold·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for hold

Synonym study

8. See have. 9. See contain. 11. See maintain. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for no holds barred



verb holds, holding or held (hɛld)

to have or keep (an object) with or within the hands, arms, etc; clasp
(tr) to support or bearto hold a drowning man's head above water
to maintain or be maintained in a specified state or conditionto hold one's emotions in check; hold firm
(tr) to set aside or reservethey will hold our tickets until tomorrow
(when intr, usually used in commands) to restrain or be restrained from motion, action, departure, etchold that man until the police come
(intr) to remain fast or unbrokenthat cable won't hold much longer
(intr) (of the weather) to remain dry and brighthow long will the weather hold?
(tr) to keep the attention ofher singing held the audience
(tr) to engage in or carry onto hold a meeting
(tr) to have the ownership, possession, etc, ofhe holds a law degree from London; who's holding the ace of spades?
(tr) to have the use of or responsibility forto hold the office of director
(tr) to have the space or capacity forthe carton will hold only eight books
(tr) to be able to control the outward effects of drinking beer, spirits, etche can hold his drink well
(often foll by to or by) to remain or cause to remain committed tohold him to his promise; he held by his views in spite of opposition
(tr; takes a clause as object) to claimhe holds that the theory is incorrect
(intr) to remain relevant, valid, or truethe old philosophies don't hold nowadays
(tr) to keep in the mindto hold affection for someone
(tr) to regard or consider in a specified mannerI hold him very dear
(tr) to guard or defend successfullyhold the fort against the attack
(intr) to continue to gohold on one's way
(sometimes foll by on) music to sustain the sound of (a note) throughout its specified durationto hold on a semibreve for its full value
(tr) computing to retain (data) in a storage device after copying onto another storage device or onto another location in the same deviceCompare clear (def. 49)
(tr) to be in possession of illegal drugs
hold for or hold good for to apply or be relevant tothe same rules hold for everyone
holding thumbs Southern African holding the thumb of one hand with the other, in the hope of bringing good luck
hold it!
  1. stop! wait!
  2. stay in the same position! as when being photographed
hold one's head high to conduct oneself in a proud and confident manner
hold one's own to maintain one's situation or position esp in spite of opposition or difficulty
hold one's peace or hold one's tongue to keep silent
hold water to prove credible, logical, or consistent
there is no holding him he is so spirited or resolute that he cannot be restrained


the act or method of holding fast or grasping, as with the hands
something to hold onto, as for support or control
an object or device that holds fast or grips something else so as to hold it fast
controlling force or influenceshe has a hold on him
a short delay or pause
a prison or a cell in a prison
wrestling a way of seizing one's opponenta wrist hold
music a pause or fermata
  1. a tenure or holding, esp of land
  2. (in combination)leasehold; freehold; copyhold
a container
archaic a fortified place
get hold of
  1. to obtain
  2. to come into contact with
no holds barred all limitations removed
on hold in a state of temporary postponement or delay
Derived Formsholdable, adjective

Word Origin for hold

Old English healdan; related to Old Norse halla, Gothic haldan, German halten




the space in a ship or aircraft for storing cargo

Word Origin for hold

C16: variant of hole
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 no holds barred



Old English haldan (Anglian), healdan (West Saxon), "to contain, grasp; retain; foster, cherish," class VII strong verb (past tense heold, past participle healden), from Proto-Germanic *haldanan (cf. Old Saxon haldan, Old Frisian halda, Old Norse halda, Dutch houden, German halten "to hold," Gothic haldan "to tend"), originally "to keep, tend, watch over" (as cattle), later "to have." Ancestral sense is preserved in behold. The original past participle holden was replaced by held beginning 16c., but survives in some legal jargon and in beholden.

Hold back is 1530s, transitive; 1570s, intransitive; hold off is early 15c., transitive; c.1600, intransitive; hold out is 1520s as "to stretch forth," 1580s as "to resist pressure." Hold on is early 13c. as "to maintain one’s course," 1830 as "to keep one’s grip on something," 1846 as an order to wait or stop. To hold (one's) tongue "be silent" is from c.1300. To hold (one's) own is from early 14c. To hold (someone's) hand "give moral support" is from 1935. Phrase hold your horses "be patient" is from 1844. To have and to hold have been paired alliteratively since at least c.1200, originally of marriage but also of real estate.



"space in a ship below the lower deck, in which cargo is stowed," 15c. corruption in the direction of hold (v.) of Old English hol "hole" (see hole), influenced by Middle Dutch hol "hold of a ship," and Middle English hul, which originally meant both "the hold" and "the hull" of a ship (see hull). Or possibly from Old English holu "husk, pod." All from PIE *kel- "to cover, conceal."



"act of holding," c.1100; "grasp, grip," c.1200, from Old English geheald (Anglian gehald) "keeping, custody, guard; watch, protector, guardian," from hold (v.). Meaning "place of refuge" is from c.1200; "fortified place" is from c.1300; "place of imprisonment" is from late 14c. Wrestling sense is from 1713. No holds barred "with all restrictions removed" is first recorded 1942 in theater jargon but is ultimately from wrestling. Telephoning sense is from c.1964, from expression hold the line, warning that one is away from the receiver, 1912.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with no holds barred

no holds barred

Without any restrictions, as in Telephone companies are entering the market for Internet users with no holds barred. This expression comes from wrestling, where certain holds are illegal, or barred, and has been used figuratively since about 1940.


In addition to the idioms beginning with hold

  • hold a candle to, not
  • hold against
  • hold a grudge
  • hold a gun to someone's head
  • hold all the aces
  • hold at bay
  • hold back
  • hold court
  • hold down
  • hold everything
  • hold forth
  • hold good
  • hold it
  • hold no brief for
  • hold off
  • hold on
  • hold one's breath
  • hold one's end up
  • hold one's fire
  • hold one's head high
  • hold one's horses
  • hold one's own
  • hold one's peace
  • hold one's temper
  • hold one's tongue
  • hold on to
  • hold on to your hat
  • hold out
  • hold out on
  • hold over
  • hold someone's feet to the fire
  • hold still for
  • hold sway over
  • hold the bag
  • hold the fort
  • hold the line
  • hold the phone
  • hold the purse strings
  • hold to
  • hold true
  • hold up
  • hold water
  • hold with
  • hold your

also see:

  • (hold) at bay
  • bear (hold) a grudge
  • get hold of
  • hang (hold) on to your hat
  • have a hold over
  • lay hold of
  • leave holding the bag
  • no holds barred
  • on hold
  • (hold the) purse strings
  • stand (hold) one's ground
  • take hold
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.