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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

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

But listen to what Germany's Foreign minister said about the president's comments earlier today not holding back anything. Fox News, "US ambassador to UK reacts to Trump's NATO comments," 12 July 2018 The world’s most popular and most prosperous professional league was constantly blamed for holding back the England team. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, "How England Rewired Its Soccer DNA," 10 July 2018 Attorneys say many asylum seekers, usually speaking through translators, fumble their interviews by holding back on details that may help their cases. Washington Post, "Attorneys: Parents in fragile state for asylum interviews," 6 July 2018 Improving and cultivating inter-Korean relations is the prevalent desire of the whole nation and the urgent calling of the times that cannot be held back any further. CNN, "READ: Full declaration of North and South Korean summit," 27 Apr. 2018 Another candidate is the stronger euro, which may have held back exports. The Economist, "The euro area’s economy loses momentum," 26 Apr. 2018 My mom leaps out and tends to my bloody face, while my sister holds back my hair. Mary Holland, Condé Nast Traveler, "A Rare Encounter: Spotting White Lions in the Wild," 24 Apr. 2018 PoliticsSF supervisors get to spread some money around their districts Local // PoliticsSF supervisors elect Malia Cohen their president as Breed set to... Local // PoliticsSF supervisors hold back funding for police Tasers, citing concern... Trisha Thadani, SFChronicle.com, "Cohen’s goal for SF Board of Supervisors’ presidency — a sense of stability," 10 July 2018 And, of course, there’s one major exception: good old-fashioned 4G, which has been held back not as much by throughput but by bandwidth caps. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Facebook's Terragraph hopes to replace fiber broadband beginning with 2019 trials," 21 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of holdback


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1535, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

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

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on holdback

See words that rhyme with holdback

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for holdback

Comments on holdback

What made you want to look up holdback? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characteristic trappings or dress

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!