hold·​ing | \ ˈhōl-diŋ \

Definition of holding 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : land held especially by a vassal or tenant
b : property (such as land or securities) owned usually used in plural
2 : a ruling of a court especially on an issue of law raised in a case — compare dictum
3 : something that holds



Definition of holding (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having the effect of holding back or delaying something the [war] represented a holding action against the spread of world Communism— Sidney Offit
2 : intended for usually temporary storage or retention a holding tank

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Synonyms for holding

Synonyms: Noun

doom, finding, judgment (or judgement), ruling, sentence

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Examples of holding in a Sentence


penalized 10 yards for holding the holding of “not guilty” took everyone by surprise


The troops were engaged in a holding action until reinforcements could arrive.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Also on view are works from the L.A. County Museum of Art’s permanent collection: the Mexico photographs of Mariana Yampolsky and objects from the museum’s holdings of ancient Egyptian art. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "Datebook: Shots of old Route 66, dreamlike paintings and garments fashioned from paper," 12 July 2018 In 1992, Kennedy affirmed the central holding of Roe v. Wade, but that was then. Martha F. Davis, Fortune, "Why Brett Kavanaugh Is a Huge Threat to Minority Rights," 10 July 2018 The two parties are at loggerheads over CBS's move to dilute the controlling stock holdings of Redstone's National Amusements Inc. Redstone is said to have a heavy round of meetings scheduled for the event. Claire Atkinson, NBC News, "Viacom CEO is sitting out Sun Valley, the famous dealmakers get together," 26 June 2018 There's just that intimacy again, the holding of hands, the sparkle in the eye. Robert Mccoppin, courant.com, "Music Can Call Back Loved Ones Lost In Alzheimer's Darkness," 22 June 2018 Soon-Shiong, Tronc’s second-largest shareholder, also will assume $90 million of pension liabilities tied to the California holdings. Robert Channick, chicagotribune.com, "Tronc completes LA Times sale, may change corporate name," 18 June 2018 With 280 state park units, California’s state park system contains the largest and most diverse recreational, natural and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency in the United States. Jill K. Robinson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Top 10 California parks: Little known wonders," 9 May 2018 The remaining holdings were options contracts and other leveraged financial instruments. Audrey Dutton, idahostatesman, "Eagle couple accuses Boise investment adviser of gambling away their retirement | Idaho Statesman," 24 Apr. 2018 Mutual funds publish the top holdings in their fund, which can give you a sense of what's in there. Sarah Skidmore Sell, Detroit Free Press, "How to eliminate gun stocks from your investment portfolio," 5 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

It was established in 1997 to meet the needs of parents in the community, focusing on activities for parents of children birth to 3 years old and holding interactive sessions each month for families, according to the schools website. Charlie Lapastora, Fox News, "Barbara Bush's passion for education and family lives on," 20 Apr. 2018 Here’s how holding office affects Florida lawmakers’ incomes But surprisingly, Florida lawmakers did not boost their incomes while in office. Kevin Fahey, Washington Post, "Are most American politicians profiting from their offices? Not according to this data.," 10 Aug. 2017 Please explain how holding secret meetings on the health care bill relates to consent of the governed. Mary Schmich, chicagotribune.com, "A new Declaration of Independence — from the Republican health care plan," 27 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'holding.' 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 holding


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1568, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for holding

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for holding

The first known use of holding was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for holding



English Language Learners Definition of holding

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: property (such as land or stocks) that is owned by someone

sports : the illegal act of using your hands or arms to slow or stop the movement of an opponent in sports like ice hockey and American football



English Language Learners Definition of holding (Entry 2 of 2)

: causing or intended to cause a temporary stop or delay

—used to describe a place where someone or something is kept for a time before being moved somewhere else



Legal Definition of holding 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a ruling of a court upon an issue of law raised in a case : the pronouncement of law supported by the reasoning in a court's opinion — compare decision, dictum, disposition, finding, judgment, opinion, ruling, verdict
2 : any property that is owned or possessed usually used in pl. an increase in the company's holdings



Legal Definition of holding (Entry 2 of 2)

: intended for temporary custody or detention a holding facility a holding cell

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More from Merriam-Webster on holding

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with holding

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for holding

Nglish: Translation of holding for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of holding for Arabic Speakers

Comments on holding

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marked by shyness and lack of polish

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