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 — see also keep company with
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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The group is leading the legal effort to keep the recreational marijuana question on the ballot. Neal Earley, Arkansas Online, 17 Sep. 2022 Some analysts expect the Fed to keep hiking beyond the 3.8 percent level that policymakers suggested in June would complete their anti-inflation work. David J. Lynch, Washington Post, 17 Sep. 2022 Lewis immediately took to Facebook to spread the word about the incident, pleading for the public to keep an eye out for Little Dude. Fox News, 17 Sep. 2022 In an effort to keep workers, some companies have raised wages, adding to their rising costs. WSJ, 17 Sep. 2022 In his first game against the Ravens, in 2018, then-Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had eight catches for 139 yards, including a miraculous 48-yarder on fourth-and-long late in the fourth quarter to keep Kansas City’s comeback hopes alive. Jonas Shaffer, Baltimore Sun, 17 Sep. 2022 Harris said workers quickly rerouted power to another source to keep as many customers’ lights on as possible. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 17 Sep. 2022 On the Lancers' first drive of the game, Wallace came up with a big-time pass breakup to keep La Salle out of the end zone. The Courier-Journal, 17 Sep. 2022 But Penn State’s secondary is good enough to keep offenses one-dimensional week to week. al, 16 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The bar-keep/butcher could put on a shirt at least. DS: The craftmanship of the wood elves is top notch. Los Angeles Times, 4 Sep. 2022 To the Ukrainian soldiers, the plant was a stronghold, surrounded on three sides by water, ringed by high walls, as seemingly impregnable as a medieval keep. New York Times, 20 July 2022 Developed by High Moon Studios, this is a more fanciful island, replete with old cobblestone streets, a winery, a smuggler’s cove and a Medieval keep. Erik Kain, Forbes, 20 June 2022 For the most part, the shows and actors most deserving of awards-show attention earned their keep when J. B. Smoove and Melissa Fumero announced the nominees on July 12...with the exception of a few glaring omissions. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 13 July 2022 Our Mustang had the Mach 1 Handling package, which raised its price by $3750 but earned its keep with gloriously sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, a rear spoiler with a cute Gurney kickup, and adjustable strut mounts. Elana Scherr, Car and Driver, 27 June 2022 Vogel insists that the compassionate solution is to confine these women in the village compound, where her staff offers the best of care, recreational activities and the benefits of honest labor (through which the women earn their keep). Los Angeles Times, 26 May 2022 In the public sphere, where PR practitioners earn our keep, the atmosphere and attention around these issues are charged to the point where any misstep, however small or seemingly unjustified, is never one a company can afford. Robert Simpson, Forbes, 19 May 2022 And while the birds are earning their keep, they have been known to slack off on occasion, going off-property to soak in the splendor of the Yucatán coast from a literal bird’s-eye view. Washington Post, 28 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About keep

Time Traveler for keep

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near keep

keen/sharp eye

keep

keepable

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for keep

Last Updated

19 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Keep.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/keep. Accessed 25 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for keep

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on keep

Nglish: Translation of keep for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of keep for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about keep

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