keep

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

All of us dreaming of a Mindy and B.J. coupling will have to keep swooning over their inimitable Instagram/Twitter banter (does Cookie Monster really have a wife?!), and rest easy knowing B.J. is one epic godfather. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "Mindy Kaling Reveals She's So Close With B.J. Novak, He's Her Daughter's Godfather," 3 May 2019 Local governments should be improving transportation to get people easier access to the closest supermarkets, and changing the tough zoning codes and taxes that keep businesses away from the area. Jessica Booth, Redbook, "Everything You Need To Know About Food Deserts," 29 Apr. 2019 So how to actually grow nails out and keep them long? Emily Rekstis, Glamour, "10 Things You Can Do Now to Get Stronger, Healthier Nails ASAP," 20 Apr. 2019 Back in the last 1940s and ‘50s, before most Americans were born, the United States military led the way on scientific achievements that kept us safe from a dangerous world. Heather Wilson, Popular Mechanics, "Op-Ed: USAF Secretary on the Future of Science and Tech in the Air Force," 18 Apr. 2019 Does Jon go back to being dead if magic is keeping him alive? Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "How Can the Night King Die on 'Game of Thrones'?," 18 Apr. 2019 There are, of course, additional reasons for keeping it. WSJ, "Electoral College and Senate Protect Interests of the Minority," 17 Apr. 2019 It’s created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Borderlands 3 is an Epic exclusive, Obsidian shows off The Outer Worlds," 5 Apr. 2019 And Acosta agreed that the deal would be kept secret from the victims, preventing them from showing up in court to try to challenge it. Jane Coaston, Vox, "Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who is friends with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, explained," 22 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That's offset somewhat by several newly standard features, including dual-zone automatic climate control and active-safety features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keep assist. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "The 2020 Hyundai Elantra Drops Its Manual Transmission and Gets a CVT for Better MPG," 14 May 2019 For example, a Level 1 vehicle can steer (via lane-keep assist) or brake/accelerate (via adaptive cruise control) for the driver. Anthony Alaniz, Popular Mechanics, "When Are Self-Driving Cars Actually Coming?," 25 Apr. 2019 Those extra bathrooms are earning their keep: On a per square foot basis, new homes with 10 or more bathrooms command a 31% percent premium over new homes with seven to nine baths on average, according to realtor.com. Kris Frieswick, WSJ, "In a House With 16 Bathrooms, There Are Lots of Choices," 10 Jan. 2019 Even the contextual content earns its keep, with advertising partners that include Cartier, Saks and Prada. Elisa Lipsky-karasz, WSJ, "Gwyneth Paltrow Wants to Convert You," 4 Dec. 2018 That left Japan to mostly play an effective keep-away game for the final 20 minutes. Victor Mather, New York Times, "Japan’s World Cup Starts With a Wild Win Over Colombia," 20 June 2018 The little ironies of world trade keep going round and round. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "U.S. Soybean Country’s Curious New Customer," 9 Nov. 2018 Best in-flight meal or airline snack?I keep airplane food very simple. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "Maria Sharapova Answers 37 Questions About Travel," 27 Aug. 2018 Ever since Spain won the European Championship in 2008 by playing an elaborate game of keep-away, the teams that dominated the ball were the teams that dominated the biggest tournaments. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Biggest Takeaways From the 2018 World Cup," 16 July 2018

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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Statistics for keep

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for keep

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

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on keep

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for keep

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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