keep

verb
\ ˈkēp How to pronounce keep (audio) \
kept\ ˈkept How to pronounce keep (audio) \; keeping

Definition of keep

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to retain in one's possession or power kept the money we found
b : to refrain from granting, giving, or allowing kept the news back
c : to have in control keep your temper
2 : to take notice of by appropriate conduct : fulfill: such as
a : to be faithful to keep a promise
b : to act fittingly in relation to keep the Sabbath
c : to conform to in habits or conduct keep late hours
d : to stay in accord with (a beat) keep time
3 : preserve, maintain: such as
a : to watch over and defend keep us from harm
b(1) : to take care of : tend keep a garden
(2) : support
(3) : to maintain in a good, fitting, or orderly condition usually used with up
c : to continue to maintain keep watch
d(1) : to cause to remain in a given place, situation, or condition keep him waiting
(2) : to preserve (food) in an unspoiled condition
e(1) : to have or maintain in an established position or relationship keep a mistress often used with on kept the cook on
(2) : to lodge or feed for pay keep boarders
f(1) : to maintain a record in keep a diary
(2) : to enter in a book keep records
g : to have customarily in stock for sale
4a : to restrain from departure or removal : detain keep children after school
b : hold back, restrain keep them from going kept him back with difficulty
c : save, reserve keep some for later kept some out for a friend
d : to refrain from revealing keep a secret
5 : to confine oneself to keep my room
6a : to stay or continue in keep the path keep your seat
b : to stay or remain on or in usually against opposition : hold kept her ground
7 : conduct, manage keep a tearoom

intransitive verb

1a : to maintain a course, direction, or progress keep to the right
b : to continue usually without interruption keep talking keep quiet keep on smiling
c : to persist in a practice kept bothering them kept on smoking in spite of warnings
2 : stay, remain keep out of the way keep off the grass : such as
a : to stay even usually used with up keep up with the Joneses
b : to remain in good condition meat will keep in the freezer
c : to remain secret the secret would keep
d : to call for no immediate action the matter will keep until morning
3 : abstain, refrain can't keep from talking
4 : to be in session school will keep through the winter— W. M. Thayer
5 of a quarterback : to retain possession of a football especially after faking a handoff
6 chiefly British : live, lodge
keep an eye on
: watch
keep at
: to persist in doing or concerning oneself with
keep company
: to go together as frequent companions or in courtship
keep house
: to manage a household
keep one's distance or keep at a distance
: to stay aloof : maintain a reserved attitude
keep one's eyes open or keep one's eyes peeled
: to be on the alert : be watchful
keep one's hand in
: to keep in practice
keep one's head down
: to avoid attracting notice
keep one's nose clean
: to avoid trouble especially through good behavior
keep pace
: to stay even also : keep up sense 1
keep step
: to keep in step
keep to
1a : to stay in
b : to limit oneself to
2 : to abide by
keep to oneself
1 : to keep secret kept the facts to myself
2 : to remain solitary or apart from other people

keep

noun

Definition of keep (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the means or provisions by which one is kept earned his keep
2 : one that keeps or protects: such as
a : fortress, castle specifically : the strongest and securest part of a medieval castle
b : one whose job is to keep or tend
c : prison, jail
b archaic : custody, charge
for keeps
1a : with the provision that one keep what one has won played marbles for keeps
b : with deadly seriousness
2 : for an indefinitely long time : permanently
3 : with the result of ending the matter

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Choose the Right Synonym for keep

Verb

keep, observe, celebrate, commemorate mean to notice or honor a day, occasion, or deed. keep stresses the idea of not neglecting or violating. kept the Sabbath by refraining from work observe suggests marking the occasion by ceremonious performance. not all holidays are observed nationally celebrate suggests acknowledging an occasion by festivity. traditionally celebrates Thanksgiving with a huge dinner commemorate suggests that an occasion is marked by observances that remind one of the origin and significance of the event. commemorate Memorial Day with the laying of wreaths

keep, retain, detain, withhold, reserve mean to hold in one's possession or under one's control. keep may suggest a holding securely in one's possession, custody, or control. keep this while I'm gone retain implies continued keeping, especially against threatened seizure or forced loss. managed to retain their dignity even in poverty detain suggests a delay in letting go. detained them for questioning withhold implies restraint in letting go or a refusal to let go. withheld information from the authorities reserve suggests a keeping in store for future use. reserve some of your energy for the last mile

Examples of keep in a Sentence

Verb She's going to keep the money she found. I can't decide whether to sell my old car or keep it for another year. While the company laid off some employees, others had hopes of keeping their jobs. “The fare is $4.” “Here's $5. Keep the change.” I asked them to keep quiet. The program teaches kids how to keep safe near water. I tried to keep the children quiet during the ceremony. The local newspaper keeps people informed about what's happening in town. The article offers tips on how to keep kids safe near water. The movie will keep you on the edge of your seat. Noun the keep of the stable is mainly left to the two equine-loving daughters
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Everybody, keep your hands real, really clear, all right? Derek Lawrence, EW.com, "Ludacris reflects on last-minute 2 Fast 2 Furious audition, initially playing himself 'to a degree'," 7 May 2021 In the meantime, the family keeps moving, swings keep swinging. Dallas News, "For FC Dallas defender Ryan Hollingshead and wife Taylor, foster parenting offers lessons and fulfillment," 7 May 2021 Pole dancing studios keep women fit while men airdrop their d--- pics to female passengers on buses, planes, and trains. . . . Washington Post, "The traditional case against pornography, with a few 21st-century updates," 7 May 2021 If you don’t get vaccinated, society will keep trying to protect you from infection by imposing discomfort on everyone. Marc Siegel, WSJ, "End Mask Mandates to Spur Vaccination," 6 May 2021 Read quick info on five great first aid kits below, then keep scrolling for in-depth reviews of these and other options, plus expert advice for responding to emergencies. Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, "The Best First Aid Kits to Keep on You For Emergencies," 5 May 2021 The molds come with lids to keep frozen foods frozen longer. Chris Hachey, BGR, "Best Accessories for Instant Pots," 4 May 2021 However, keep in mind that rental tools are professional grade, so note which features you like and look for those in consumer options. Samantha S. Thorpe, Better Homes & Gardens, "5 Ways Renting Equipment Can Save You Time and Money on Outdoor Projects This Summer," 4 May 2021 For more detail on where the city is planning to expand these types of bike infrastructure, keep reading. London Gibson, The Indianapolis Star, "Scrub Hub: What's the future of bike lanes in Indianapolis?," 4 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Prince Philip earned his keep with a sense of humor, at least in my ledger book. Ron Grossman, chicagotribune.com, "Column: A ‘Chicago street-corner boy’ finds himself saddened by an English prince’s funeral," 17 Apr. 2021 In leagues such as the English Premier League, the teams that underperform get booted from the top division, swapping spaces with a second division club that has earned its keep. Sean Gregory, Time, "European Soccer's American Owners Tried to Form a U.S.-Style 'Super League.' It Hasn't Gone Well," 20 Apr. 2021 Hitting the mark in his first race in the No. 10 would do a lot to earn his keep. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Thoughts on all 24 IndyCar drivers entering Barber season-opener," 16 Apr. 2021 His drops and underdeveloped route-running might signal some early bumps in his career, but Tremble offers the athleticism to be a more productive pass catcher while still earning his keep as a bulldozing blocker. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "10 NFL draft prospects who could have better careers as pros: Davis Mills, Jayson Oweh could break out," 10 Apr. 2021 As in keep in mind what contributed to the team’s run of 11 victories in the 15 games before the break. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "Heat’s Andre Iguodala recognizes importance of staying in the swing of things," 7 Mar. 2021 This butter curler is an investment that will earn its keep in the kitchen come every Saturday morning spread. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, "We Found a $14 Butter-Spreading Tool That Finally Makes It Easy To Spread Cold Butter Whenever You Want," 3 Mar. 2021 But the Echo Show just doesn’t do enough to earn its keep. Washington Post, "Amazon’s new rotating, follow-you camera is useful — and invasive," 26 Feb. 2021 Drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, and endlessly versatile in garden design, this evergreen favorite earns its keep. Lauren Dunec Hoang, Better Homes & Gardens, "Expert Tips for Growing and Designing With Beautiful Boxwood," 25 Feb. 2021

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

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Noun

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 4b

History and Etymology for keep

Verb and Noun

Middle English kepen, from Old English cēpan; perhaps akin to Old High German chapfēn to look

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Time Traveler for keep

Time Traveler

The first known use of keep was before the 12th century

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Statistics for keep

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Keep.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/keep. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for keep

keep

verb

English Language Learners Definition of keep

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to continue having or holding (something) : to not return, lose, sell, give away, or throw away (something)
: to continue in a specified state, condition, or position
: to cause (someone or something) to continue in a specified state, condition, or position

keep

noun

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

: the strongest part of a castle built in the Middle Ages

keep

verb
\ ˈkēp How to pronounce keep (audio) \
kept\ ˈkept \; keeping

Kids Definition of keep

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to remain or cause to remain in a given place, situation, or condition Keep off the grass. She kept us waiting.
2 : to put in a specified place for storage Where do you keep the sugar?
3 : protect I'll keep you from harm.
4 : to continue doing something Snow kept falling.
5 : to continue to have in possession or power Did you keep the money you found?
6 : to prevent from leaving : detain The criminal was kept in jail.
7 : to hold back Can you keep a secret?
8 : to be faithful to : fulfill I kept my promise.
9 : to act properly in relation to Remember to keep the Sabbath.
10 : to take care of : tend I keep a vegetable garden.
11 : to have available for service or at someone's disposal Grandpa wants to keep a car.
12 : to preserve a record in He began to keep a diary.
13 : to continue in an unspoiled condition Buy food that keeps well.
14 : refrain entry 1 They seem unable to keep from talking.
keep an eye on
: watch entry 1 sense 3 Please keep an eye on the baby until I get back.
keep up
1 : to continue without interruption The rain kept up all night.
2 : to stay even with others (as in a race)
3 : to stay well informed about something He tries to keep up with the news.
4 : maintain sense 2 They keep up the yard.

keep

noun

Kids Definition of keep (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the strongest part of a castle in the Middle Ages
2 : the necessities of life Their father could not earn the family's keep.
for keeps
1 : with the understanding that a person or group may keep what is won We'll play marbles for keeps.
2 : for a long time : permanently He stayed angry for keeps.

Comments on keep

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