• synonyms


  1. a person who guards or watches, as at a prison or gate.
  2. a person who assumes responsibility for another's behavior: He refused to be his brother's keeper.
  3. a person who owns or operates a business (usually used in combination): a hotelkeeper.
  4. a person who is responsible for the maintenance of something (often used in combination): a zookeeper; a groundskeeper.
  5. a person charged with responsibility for the preservation and conservation of something valuable, as a curator or game warden.
  6. a person who conforms to or abides by a requirement: a keeper of his word.
  7. a fish that is of sufficient size to be caught and retained without violating the law.
  8. Football. a play in which the quarterback retains the ball and runs with it, usually after faking a hand-off or pass.
  9. something that serves to hold in place, retain, etc., as on a door lock.
  10. something that lasts well, as a fruit.
  11. guard ring.
  12. an iron or steel bar placed across the poles of a permanent horseshoe magnet for preserving the strength of the magnet during storage.
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Origin of keeper

First recorded in 1250–1300, keeper is from the Middle English word keper. See keep, -er1
Related formskeep·er·less, adjectivekeep·er·ship, nounun·der·keep·er, noun


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for under-keeper

Historical Examples

  • Toomer, the under-keeper, went with him to the place, accompanied by a bloodhound.

    Anecdotes of Dogs

    Edward Jesse

  • There are the two terriers and the under-keeper's Irish mongrel that's on to rats like a flash.

  • But the man who had helped the lad to administer the poisoned clyster, the under-keeper Weston, was at hand.

    She Stands Accused

    Victor MacClure

  • Here also, in all probability, was the man who had fired the shot that killed the under-keeper.

    Mrs. Severn, Vol. 1 (of 3)

    Mary Elizabeth Carter

  • A casual question of mine about the game conditions elicited from him the information that he was an under-keeper at the Castle.

    The Man with the Clubfoot

    Valentine Williams

British Dictionary definitions for under-keeper


  1. a person in charge of animals, esp in a zoo
  2. a person in charge of a museum, collection, or section of a museum
  3. a person in charge of other people, such as a warder in a jail
  4. See goalkeeper, wicketkeeper, gamekeeper
  5. a person who keeps something
  6. a device, such as a clip, for keeping something in place
  7. a soft iron or steel bar placed across the poles of a permanent magnet to close the magnetic circuit when it is not in use
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Derived Formskeeperless, adjectivekeepership, noun
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 under-keeper



c.1300 (late 13c. as a surname), "one who has charge of some person or thing, warden," agent noun from keep (v.). Sense of "one who carries on some business" is from mid-15c. Sporting sense (originally cricket) is from 1744. Meaning "something (or someone) worth keeping" is attested by 1999. Brother's keeper is from Genesis iv:9.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper