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 onkept 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 upkeep 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 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
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

Keep scrolling for more

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 relocation will save money, and allow for more flexibility as Belfort keeps going. BostonGlobe.com, "Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building," 17 Sep. 2019 Researchers are also keeping a close eye on lucrative fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "Is ‘The Blob’ back? New marine heat wave threatens Pacific," 17 Sep. 2019 Other research has found that the ability to perceive faces keeps improving until around age 20. Quanta Magazine, "Computers and Humans ‘See’ Differently. Does It Matter?," 17 Sep. 2019 Nani netted three goals and added an assist during the last two weeks, leading the team to back-to-back comeback draws to keep the Lions’ faint playoff hopes alive. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Nani praises growth of Orlando City as the captain flourishes in final stretch of season," 17 Sep. 2019 But that good news comes with a caveat: Even if exchange users are paying lower premiums in 2020, their out-of-pocket expenses will likely keep climbing, said Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman or the office. Paul Roberts, The Seattle Times, "Health-insurance premiums on state exchange will fall next year, but out-of-pocket costs are still rising," 14 Sep. 2019 The two spacious compartments will keep all your daily necessities handy—which is pretty nice for architects or engineers who are running from the studio to the construction site all day long. Harper's BAZAAR, "The Work Bag That’s Perfect for Every Type of Job," 13 Sep. 2019 About 40 volunteers came out to help set up and keep the parade running smoothly, including members from several local Rotary clubs, members of Poway’s Community Emergency Response Team and community members. Emily Sorensen, Pomerado News, "Poway Rotary Parade marks 55th year with successful event," 12 Sep. 2019 When the species was first found, officials kept logging and forestry equipment away from the plants. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Once Thought to Be Extinct, This Lucky Clover Has Recovered Enough to Come Off the Endangered List," 16 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Her family’s pet, an indoor/outdoor cat named Wendell, earned his keep by disposing of the mice that tried to nest in their garden. Vincent T. Davis, ExpressNews.com, "Sight of abused dogs in San Antonio prompted meter reader to work on behalf of pets," 21 Oct. 2019 Carlson earning his keep When John Carlson signed a monster extension with the Capitals — eight years, $64 million — two summers ago, it was viewed as a sweet deal for a Stanley Cup champions, and a bit of a risk. BostonGlobe.com, "is back in the NHL, and he is grateful.," 20 Oct. 2019 In Portland, food writer Michael Russell took him to two of his under-the-radar favorites, Grand Army Tavern and Kim Jong Grillin', where Tesoriero jumped in the kitchen to earn his keep. oregonlive, "Coming soon: ‘Dom Eats Local,’ a tasty tour across six states," 8 Oct. 2019 But the real fun starts when Dom has to earn his keep at the neighborhood spot. Al.com Staff, al, "‘Dom Eats Local,’ a tasty tour across six states; Who is Chef Dom and where is he eating?," 8 Oct. 2019 Like the other two cars, the CX-5 comes with Mazda's suite of driver-assistance tech, including lane-keep assist and start-stop adaptive cruise control. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "SUV smackdown: Comparing a Nissan Rogue, Jeep Cherokee, and Mazda CX-5," 5 Oct. 2019 They often are sent away by their families for Quranic training but then can be turned out into the streets by their new guardians to beg to earn their keep. NBC News, "Hundreds of boys, men freed from torture building in Nigeria," 27 Sep. 2019 But if quantum computers are really to earn their keep, then other algorithms will be needed. The Economist, "Proof emerges that a quantum computer can outperform a classical one," 26 Sep. 2019 Made from recycled polyester to save resources and help decrease emissions, the shirt features adidas' CLIMALITE technology, which is designed keep fans cool whilst wearing the all-new shirt. SI.com, "Arsenal 2019/20 Kit: The Gunners Unveil New Third Jersey Set to Be an Instant Classic," 12 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for keep

Last Updated

3 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Keep.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/keeping%20one's%20eyes%20peeled%20for. Accessed 21 November 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for keep

keep

verb
How to pronounce keep (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on keep

What made you want to look up keep? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

strength of mind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • pasta resembling wheels with spokes
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!