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

Hundreds of police formed a human chain to hold back the crowds. Jeff Baker, The Seattle Times, "‘Bruce Lee: A Life’: a remarkable life, from Seattle to Hong Kong," 26 June 2018 Whatever temptation there may be in a final to be conservative, to hold back a fraction, Liverpool has to attack. Jonathan Wilson, SI.com, "What Jurgen Klopp's Cup Final Past Indicates for Liverpool Entering UCL Title Bout," 24 May 2018 Montgomery said cities around the world have found ways to hold back the sea. Phil Diehl, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Del Mar takes another look at rising sea level and unpopular 'planned retreat'," 20 May 2018 Meanwhile, analysts and investors are looking ahead to the next joint ministerial monitoring meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC countries that have joined forces to hold back crude oil production. Alison Sider, WSJ, "Oil Settles Higher," 17 Apr. 2018 To hold back the melting Pine Island Glacier, six cubic kilometers of material would be required, 60 time as much as is needed for the Greenland project. Sophie Weiner, Popular Mechanics, "Geoengineered Glaciers Could Help Slow Rising Seas," 16 Mar. 2018 Not to be held back, Anthony also got a Maluma kiss, albeit a platonic one: Anthony covered Maluma’s mouth with his hand for the hilarious moment that’s been shared everywhere since. 2. Leila Cobo, Billboard, "Hot Kisses, Great Causes: Best Moments From Marc Anthony's 2018 Maestro Cares Gala," 11 Mar. 2018 Millennials feel they’re being held back...by their credit score that is. Adam Shell, USA TODAY, "Credit card holders at JPMorgan rush to cash in their rewards points," 13 July 2018 State revenues have been held back by sluggish wage growth and by changes in people’s consumption patterns. David Harrison, WSJ, "Many States Are Likely Unprepared for Next Downturn," 8 July 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

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).


a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!