1

keep

verb \ ˈkēp \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

Definition of keep

kept play \ˈkept\; keeping
transitive verb
1 a :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
4 a :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
6 a :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
1 a :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
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 1
keep step
:to keep in step
keep to
1 a :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

Examples of keep in a Sentence

  1. She's going to keep the money she found.

  2. I can't decide whether to sell my old car or keep it for another year.

  3. While the company laid off some employees, others had hopes of keeping their jobs.

  4. “The fare is $4.” “Here's $5. Keep the change.”

  5. I asked them to keep quiet.

  6. The program teaches kids how to keep safe near water.

  7. I tried to keep the children quiet during the ceremony.

  8. The local newspaper keeps people informed about what's happening in town.

  9. The article offers tips on how to keep kids safe near water.

  10. The movie will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Recent Examples of keep from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of keep

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

Synonym Discussion of keep

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

2

keep

noun

Definition of keep

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
3 :keeper 5
b archaic :custody, charge
for keeps
1 a :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

Examples of keep in a Sentence

  1. the keep of the stable is mainly left to the two equine-loving daughters

Recent Examples of keep from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of keep

see 1keep


KEEP Defined for English Language Learners

keep

verb

Definition of keep for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of keep for English Language Learners

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


KEEP Defined for Kids

1

keep

verb \ ˈkēp \

Definition of keep for Students

kept \ˈkept\; keeping
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 :1refrain
  • They seem unable to keep from talking.
keep an eye on
:1watch 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 2
  • They keep up the yard.

Headscratcher for keep

Have you ever been told to keep your eyes peeled, and wondered how you were supposed to peel your eyes? The “peel” in the expression refers to your eyelids. To keep your eyes peeled means to keep them open—in other words, to be watchful.


2

keep

noun

Definition of keep for Students

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.


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