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verb \ˈhōld\

Simple Definition of hold

  • : to have or keep (something) in your hand, arms, etc.

  • : to put your arms around (someone) : to embrace or hug (someone)

  • : to put or keep (something or someone) in a specified place or position

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of hold


play \ˈheld\


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to have possession or ownership of or have at one's disposal <holds property worth millions> <the bank holds the title to the car> b :  to have as a privilege or position of responsibility <hold a professorship> c :  to have as a mark of distinction <holds the record for the 100-yard dash> <holds a PhD>

  3. 2 :  to keep under restraint <hold price increases to a minimum>: as a :  to prevent free expression of <hold your temper> b :  to prevent from some action <ordered the troops to hold fire> <the only restraining motive which may hold the hand of a tyrant — Thomas Jefferson> c :  to keep back from use <ask them to hold a room for us> <I'll have a hot dog, and hold the mustard> d :  to delay temporarily the handling of <please hold all my calls>

  4. 3 :  to make liable or accountable or bound to an obligation <I'll hold you to your promise>

  5. 4 a :  to have or maintain in the grasp <hold my hand> <this is how you hold the racket>; also :  aim, point <held a gun on them> b :  to support in a particular position or keep from falling or moving <hold me up so I can see> <hold the ladder steady> <a clamp holds the whole thing together> <hold your head up> c :  to bear the pressure of :  support <can the roof hold all of that weight>

  6. 5 :  to prevent from leaving or getting away <hold the train>: as a :  to avoid emitting or letting out <how long can you hold your breath> b :  to restrain as or as if a captive <the suspect was held without bail> <held them at gunpoint>; also :  to have strong appeal to <the book held my interest throughout>

  7. 6 a :  to enclose and keep in a container or within bounds :  contain <the jug holds one gallon> <this corral will not hold all of the horses> b :  to be able to consume easily or without undue effect <can't hold any more pie>; especially :  to be able to drink (alcoholic beverages) without becoming noticeably drunk <can't hold your liquor> c :  accommodate <the restaurant holds 400 diners> d :  to have as a principal or essential feature or attribute <the book holds a number of surprises>; also :  to have in store <no one knows what the future holds>

  8. 7 a :  to have in the mind or express as a judgment, opinion, or belief <I hold the view that this is wrong> <hold a grudge> <holding that it is nobody's business but his — Jack Olsen> —often used with against <in America they hold everything you say against you — Paul McCartney> b :  to think of in a particular way :  regard <were held in high esteem>

  9. 8 a :  to assemble for and carry on the activity of <held a convention> b :  to cause to be carried on :  conduct <will hold a seminar> c :  to produce or sponsor especially as a public exhibition <will hold an art show>

  10. 9 a :  to maintain occupation, control, or defense of <the troops held the ridge>; also :  to resist the offensive efforts or advance of <held the opposing team to just two points> b :  to maintain (a certain condition, situation, or course of action) without change <hold a course due east>

  11. 10 :  to cover (a part of the body) especially for protection <had to hold their ears because of the cold>

  12. intransitive verb
  13. 1 a :  to maintain position :  refuse to give ground <the defensive line is holding> b :  to continue in the same way or to the same degree :  last <hopes the weather will hold> —often used with up

  14. 2 :  to derive right or title —often used with of or from

  15. 3 :  to be or remain valid :  apply <the rule holds in most cases> —often used in the phrase hold true

  16. 4 :  to maintain a grasp on something :  remain fastened to something <the anchor held in the rough sea>

  17. 5 :  to go ahead as one has been going <held south for several miles>

  18. 6 :  to bear or carry oneself <asked him to hold still>

  19. 7 :  to forbear an intended or threatened action :  halt, pause —often used as a command

  20. 8 :  to stop counting during a countdown

  21. 9 slang :  to have illicit drug material in one's possession

hold a brief for

  1. :  advocate, defend —usually used in negative constructions <I hold no brief for cartels and market allocations — J. D. Upham>

hold a candle to

  1. :  to qualify for comparison with

hold court

  1. :  to be the center of attention among friends or admirers

hold forth

  1. :  to speak at length :  expatiate

hold hands

  1. :  to engage one's hand with another's especially as an expression of affection

hold one's breath

  1. 1 :  to prevent oneself from breathing temporarily

  2. 2 :  to wait in anxious anticipation

hold one's horses

  1. :  to slow down or stop for a moment —usually used in the imperative

hold one's own

  1. :  to maintain one's position :  prove equal to opposition

hold one's tongue


hold one's peace

  1. :  to keep silent :  keep one's thoughts to oneself

hold sway

  1. :  to have a dominant influence :  rule

hold the bag

  1. 1 :  to be left empty-handed

  2. 2 :  to bear alone a responsibility that should have been shared by others

hold the fort

  1. 1 :  to maintain a firm position

  2. 2 :  to take care of usual affairs <is holding the fort until the manager returns>

hold the line

  1. :  to maintain the current position or situation <hold the line on prices>

hold to

  1. :  to give firm assent to :  adhere to strongly <holds to his promise>

hold to account

  1. :  to hold responsible

hold water

  1. :  to stand up under criticism or analysis

hold with

  1. :  to agree with or approve of

Examples of hold in a sentence

  1. Hold the rail so you won't fall.

  2. He was holding a large package in his arms.

  3. Would you hold this for me?

  4. She showed him the correct way to hold the racket.

  5. Some people just don't like to be held.

  6. He held her close and kissed her.

  7. He held the pen in his mouth while he dialed the number.

  8. Hold the pen upright when you write.

  9. She picked up the trophy and held it over her head.

  10. You have to hold the button down for several seconds.

Origin and Etymology of hold

Middle English, from Old English healdan; akin to Old High German haltan to hold, and perhaps to Latin celer rapid, Greek klonos agitation

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of hold

contain, hold, accommodate mean to have or be capable of having within. contain implies the actual presence of a specified substance or quantity within something <the can contains a quart of oil>. hold implies the capacity of containing or the usual or permanent function of containing or keeping <the bookcase will hold all my textbooks>. accommodate stresses holding without crowding or inconvenience <the hall can accommodate 500 people>.




Definition of hold

  1. 1 :  stronghold 1

  2. 2 a :  confinement, custody b :  prison

  3. 3 a (1) :  the act or the manner of holding or grasping :  grip <released his hold on the handle> (2) :  a manner of grasping an opponent in wrestling b :  a nonphysical bond that attaches, restrains, or constrains or by which something is affected, controlled, or dominated <has lost its hold on the broad public — Oscar Cargill> c :  full comprehension <get hold of exactly what is happening — J. P. Lyford> d :  full or immediate control :  possession <get hold of yourself> <wants to get hold of a road map> e :  touch 14 —used with of <tried to get hold of me>

  4. 4 :  something that may be grasped as a support

  5. 5 a :  fermata b :  the time between the onset and the release of a vocal articulation

  6. 6 :  a sudden motionless posture at the end of a dance

  7. 7 a :  an order or indication that something is to be reserved or delayed b :  a delay in a countdown (as in launching a spacecraft)

on hold

  1. 1 :  in a state of interruption during a telephone call when one party switches to another line without totally disconnecting the other party

  2. 2 :  in a state or period of indefinite suspension <put our plans on hold>

14th Century

First Known Use of hold

14th century




Definition of hold

  1. 1 :  the interior of a ship below decks; especially :  the cargo deck of a ship

  2. 2 :  the cargo compartment of a plane

Origin and Etymology of hold

alteration of hole

First Known Use: 1591

Other Aeronautics/Aerospace Terms

HOLD Defined for Kids



verb \ˈhōld\

Definition of hold for Students




  1. 1 :  to have or keep a grip on <hold a book> <She held the child's hand.>

  2. 2 :  to take in and have within :  contain <This jar holds a quart.>

  3. 3 :  1support 1 <The floor will hold ten tons.>

  4. 4 :  to carry on by group action <The club held a meeting.>

  5. 5 :  to have as a position of responsibility <She holds the office of treasurer.>

  6. 6 :  to continue in the same way or state :  last <According to the forecast, good weather will hold.>

  7. 7 :  to remain fast or fastened <The lock held.>

  8. 8 :  to have or keep possession or control of <Soldiers held the fort.>

  9. 9 :  to have in mind <They hold different opinions.>

  10. 10 :  to limit the movement or activity of :  restrain <A nut holds the bolt.> <Please hold the dogs.>

  11. 11 :  to continue in a condition or position <Can you hold still a minute?>

  12. 12 :  to continue moving on (a course) without change

  13. 13 :  to make accept a legal or moral duty <They held me to my promise.>

  14. 14 :  consider 3, regard <He is widely held to be a genius.>


\ˈhōl-dər\ noun

hold out

  1. 1 :  to continue to be present or exist <My money held out until I got paid.>

  2. 2 :  to refuse to yield or agree <The soldiers held out until help arrived.>

hold up

  1. 1 :  2delay 2 <Police are holding up traffic.>

  2. 2 :  to rob while threatening with a weapon




Definition of hold for Students

  1. 1 :  the act or way of holding :  grip <He had a tight hold on the rope.>

  2. 2 :  a note or rest in music kept up longer than usual




Definition of hold for Students

  1. 1 :  the part of a ship below the decks in which cargo is stored

  2. 2 :  the cargo compartment of an airplane

Law Dictionary


transitive verb

Legal Definition of hold



  1. 1a :  to have lawful possession or ownership of <held the property as tenants in common> <the band holds the title to the car> b :  to have as a privilege or position of responsibility <holding a retail liquor license> <the judges…shall hold their offices during good behavior — U.S. Constitution art. III>

  2. 2 :  to restrain the liberty of; specifically :  to keep in custody <the defendant will be held without bail>

  3. 3 :  to cause to be conducted <will hold a hearing on the matter>

  4. 4 :  to rule as the holding of a case <the court held that such conduct violated the statute> — compare decide, find

Seen and Heard

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to permeate or influence as if by dyeing

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