hold·back | \ˈhōl(d)-ˌbak \

Definition of holdback 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that retains or restrains

2a : the act of holding back

b : something held back

hold back


Definition of hold back (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to hinder the progress or achievement of : restrain

b : to keep from advancing to the next stage, grade, or level

2 : to refrain from revealing or parting with held back important information

intransitive verb

1 : to keep oneself in check

2 : to refrain from revealing or parting with something

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Examples of holdback in a Sentence


there'll be a holdback on production until the new machinery is fully installed the only holdback to starting the new job is my contractual commitment to my current position


the only thing holding Joe back from joining the swim team is lack of transportation held back her tears until she was alone
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Connecticut Department of Education sent Canterbury town officials a letter saying that the additional holdback of $250,000 would incur a $500,000 Education Cost Sharing penalty. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Canterbury Boards Battle Over Roof Replacement, Education Budget," 3 Apr. 2018 Legislation is being discussed to do away with the penalty associated with cuts made after holdbacks were announced. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Canterbury Boards Battle Over Roof Replacement, Education Budget," 3 Apr. 2018 Negotiators from the House had agreed near the end of the regular session to lower the holdback to $100 million. Lsu Manship School News Service, NOLA.com, "An LSU student's analysis of the Legislature's budget impasse," 13 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Previous White Houses in recent decades have tried to avoid public comment on the Fed, but Kudlow hasn’t held back. Jeff Stein, latimes.com, "Trump's top economic advisor says deficit is 'coming down rapidly,' contradicting virtually all available data," 29 June 2018 But with the state facing large budget deficits and tough fiscal times, various funds have been delayed or held back at times during the past two years. Christopher Keating, courant.com, "All Malloy Vetoes Upheld; Lawmakers Fail On Overrides," 25 June 2018 Students who take advantage of the option typically have failed at least one class and don’t want to attend summer school, repeat the class in its entirety during the school year or be held back from advancing a grade level or graduating. Tawnell D. Hobbs, WSJ, "A New Way to Avoid Summer School for Failing Students," 10 June 2018 Two families who lost children during the Santa Fe shooting are suing, and the language being used in the documents does not hold back. Fernando Ramirez, Houston Chronicle, "'Monstrous murderer:' Lawsuit against Texas school shooter's parents pulls no punches," 6 June 2018 Many of us are already engaged in addressing, instead of perpetuating, preconceived notions that divide our society and hold back our progress. Jason Han, Philly.com, "For this surgeon-in-training, his profession's stereotype both inspiring and damaging," 15 May 2018 Karapiperis said the committee raised roughly $12,000 this year, but will hold back some for the class of 2019, as is the tradition. Rosemarie Dowell, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Project Graduation returns to Mount Dora High, one year after thieves tried to ruin party," 14 May 2018 Ellsworth said that Pennsylvania’s school funding system is not fair or adequate, and that making public schools compete for money with public school alternatives is holding back achievement. Marc Levy, The Seattle Times, "Where Pennsylvania’s GOP governor candidates stand on issues," 12 May 2018 Luck took handoffs Tuesday, and was working on his footwork early in Wednesday’s workout, holding back on the throwing motion at the end of his dropbacks. Zak Keefer, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: 2 days in, Frank Reich speeding life up for Colts," 25 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'holdback.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of holdback


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1535, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Learn More about holdback

Statistics for holdback

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for holdback

The first known use of holdback was in 1535

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Comments on holdback

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one that holds something together

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