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

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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 That trip was apparently prevented, but clearly that didn't keep the ship from continuing its journeys, which also involved taking sisal fiber and paying passengers to Cuba. Mark Stevenson, Star Tribune, "Mexico identifies submerged wreck of Mayan slave ship," 15 Sep. 2020 That trip was apparently prevented, but clearly that didn’t keep the ship from continuing its journeys, which also involved taking sisal fiber and paying passengers to Cuba. Mark Stevenson, chicagotribune.com, "Archaeologists in Mexico identify submerged wreck of Mayan slave ship," 15 Sep. 2020 Hot sleepers will love the fact that a breathable design will keep them cool all night long. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, "30 of the coolest products at Wayfair you never knew about," 15 Sep. 2020 Regardless, who’d have guessed a week ago that the Reds would keep us entertained through the end of the regular year? Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, "Doc's Morning Line: Where do you stand on this Cincinnati Reds season?," 15 Sep. 2020 So keep scrolling to read about the new launches: 1. Sarah Han, Allure, "Sephora Collection Just Dropped Its Holiday Collection With the Cutest Gift Sets," 15 Sep. 2020 To keep the high points in mind, the vivid moments and hours. Don Delillo, Harper's Magazine, "Time to Destination," 15 Sep. 2020 If the melon is too pallid or splotchy in parts, keep looking. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "How to pick a watermelon," 15 Sep. 2020 However, the smoke will keep the sky hazy into mid-week, according to NWS Chicago. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Wildfire smoke from western U.S. has spread to Washington, D.C.," 15 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Leonis had earned his keep in the PSU athletic department by helping out in the equipment room and on the events staff. oregonlive, "Ex-Portland State distance runner Nigel Leonis could only watch from afar as wildfires descended on his family’s home in Talent," 12 Sep. 2020 Today, more than half a century of data and research has shown that high-cost professional management can’t earn its keep. Scott Burns, Dallas News, "Scott Burns: How many Texas public pension funds beat a simple index fund?," 15 Aug. 2020 Herman is looking at the development of offensive linemen, the lack of experienced depth at linebacker and cornerback battles as among the keep camp plotlines. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "A ‘therapeutic’ return to practice is a welcome feeling for Tom Herman, Texas ahead of a season full of uncertainty," 8 Aug. 2020 In preparation to open the gates to thousands of spectators for the first time in his ownership era, Penske had invested $15 million in upgrades for the fan experience and general up-keep of the facility. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Without the Indy 500, some IndyCar teams would have disappeared: 'I’m not sure we would have survived'," 8 Aug. 2020 There are millions of songs in the world, yet the same select few keep appearing over and over in TikTok videos. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, "Here Are All the Songs You Keep Hearing on TikTok," 20 Mar. 2020 The technology that had pervaded the lives of Gen Z was suddenly earning its keep. Galt Niederhoffer, New York Times, "How Coronavirus Shifted the Stakes of Teenage Rebellion," 1 May 2020 That is not the usual business of soldiering, but armed forces must earn their substantial keep. The Economist, "Global arms spending is rising, but covid-19 will trim budgets," 26 Apr. 2020 Today’s country bands don’t play for keeps, but John Prine comes from a place where those things are incontrovertible. Holly Gleason, cleveland, "Down on the beach, the sandman sleeps: Sweet dreams, John Prine," 9 Apr. 2020

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

18 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Keep.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/keep. Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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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.

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