re·​serve | \ ri-ˈzərv How to pronounce reserve (audio) \
reserved; reserving

Definition of reserve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to hold in reserve : keep back reserve grain for seed
b : to set aside (part of the consecrated elements) at the Eucharist for future use
c : to retain or hold over to a future time or place : defer reserve one's judgment on a plan
d : to make legal reservation of
2 : to set or have set aside or apart reserve a hotel room


noun, often attributive

Definition of reserve (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something reserved or set aside for a particular purpose, use, or reason: such as
a(1) : a military force withheld from action for later decisive use usually used in plural
(2) : forces not in the field but available
(3) : the military forces of a country not part of the regular services also : reservist
b : a tract (as of public land) set apart : reservation
2 : something stored or kept available for future use or need : stock
3 : an act of reserving : qualification
4a : restraint, closeness, or caution in one's words and actions
b : forbearance from making a full explanation, complete disclosure, or free expression of one's mind
5 archaic : secret
6a : money or its equivalent kept in hand or set apart usually to meet liabilities
b : the liquid resources of a nation for meeting international payments
9 : a wine made from select grapes, bottled on the maker's premises, and aged differently from the maker's other wines of the same vintage
in reserve
: held back for future or special use

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Other Words from reserve


reservable \ ri-​ˈzər-​və-​bəl How to pronounce reservable (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for reserve


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 reserve in a Sentence

Verb We reserved a hotel room. This table is reserved for someone else. The seats are reserved under my name. We will reserve this wine for a special occasion. She usually reserved her best dishes for very important dinners. Noun He had to call upon his inner reserves of strength to keep going. the salesclerk showed great reserve in dealing with the unreasonable demands of the angry customer
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Additionally, a table in the front of the room was reserved for Yarbrough. Bob Chiarito,, "Cook County clerk, refusing to cross picket line, is absent at Triton College dinner in her honor," 7 Nov. 2019 Ajax supporters had been denied tickets to this match by UEFA following crowd trouble during the Dutch club's recent trip to Valencia, and so the corner of this stadium usually reserved for some of Europe's most raucous fans was empty. Matias Grez, CNN, "Chelsea and Ajax serve up eight-goal Champions League thriller," 5 Nov. 2019 Shortly after, Mary claims another Buffalo Wild Wings employee approached the adults in the party to say a seating mistake had been made and their tables were reserved for another group. CBS News, "Buffalo Wild Wings fires workers allegedly involved in racist incident," 4 Nov. 2019 The new bar showcases two historic murals on the wall along with a large seating area that can also be reserved for groups and parties. Jordyn Noennig, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Miller High Life Theatre makes its new bar, Miss Lizzie's, the center of its space," 4 Nov. 2019 Top this light and airy meringue with vegan coconut whipped cream and luscious raspberries and pomegranate seeds, then save the reserved coconut liquid for a light breakfast smoothie the next day. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Raspberry-Pomegranate Pavlova," 4 Nov. 2019 Specific praise is reserved for guitarist Jones, drummer Carey and bass player Chancellor, three musicians of jaw-dropping virtuosity. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Ever-intense rock band Tool reaches peak at Bankers Life Fieldhouse," 3 Nov. 2019 The Plane Pull takes all year to plan, between reserving the plane and having the teams collect the minimum $1,500 needed to participate, said Lori Newcomb, Special Olympics Florida vice president of development . Cristóbal Reyes,, "6th Orlando Plane Pull brings together community, Special Olympians, star wrestlers," 2 Nov. 2019 Ski wear is no longer reserved only for the slopes. Todd Plummer, Town & Country, "Mountain High," 31 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The country has $3.5bn of foreign-exchange reserves, about eight months’ worth of imports. The Economist, "Jamaica’s tumultuous relationship with the IMF has a happy ending," 9 Nov. 2019 Carolina quarterback Cam Newton will miss the remainder of the 2019 NFL regular season after the Panthers placed the former Auburn All-American on injured reserve on Monday. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Carolina Panthers put Cam Newton on injured reserve," 5 Nov. 2019 He was cut from injured reserve with an injury settlement in September. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans work out defensive ends Nate Orchard, Ade Aruna," 5 Nov. 2019 The Jaguars had only three other receivers on the roster — DJ Chark, Keelan Cole, and Chris Conley — after putting Marqise Lee on injured reserve with a season-ending shoulder injury . ., "to pull out of his Paris Masters semifinal, meaning top-ranked," 3 Nov. 2019 Lions QB Mike Reilly was placed on injured reserve not too long ago so the quarterback job is left for Danny O’Brien. Chris Wassel, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Stampeders-Lions odds: BC a home 'dog with bite?," 2 Nov. 2019 Seattle’s acquisition of Gordon comes just one day after being released from injured reserve by the Patriots. Tim Brown, oregonlive, "Josh Gordon claimed by Seattle Seahawks after being waived by New England Patriots: Report," 1 Nov. 2019 And Ross, who was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 2 with a sternoclavicular injury, is a candidate to return to the active roster. Tyler Dragon,, "Bye week 'coming at the right time' for Cincinnati Bengals," 31 Oct. 2019 Talib, 33, was placed on injured reserve with a rib injury on Oct. 14 and cannot play again until missing at least eight games, leaving Week 15 as the earliest possible point for a return. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "Los Angeles Rams trade CB Aqib Talib to Miami Dolphins," 29 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reserve.' 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 reserve


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1648, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for reserve


Middle English, from Anglo-French reserver, from Latin reservare, literally, to keep back, from re- + servare to keep — more at conserve

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Statistics for reserve

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for reserve

The first known use of reserve was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for reserve


How to pronounce reserve (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of reserve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make arrangements so that you will be able to use or have (something, such as a room, table, or seat) at a later time
: to keep (something) for a special or future use
: to choose to do (something) at a later time



English Language Learners Definition of reserve (Entry 2 of 2)

: a supply of something that is stored so that it can be used at a later time
: a military force that is additional to the regular forces and that is available if it is needed
: an area of land where animals and plants are given special protection


re·​serve | \ ri-ˈzərv How to pronounce reserve (audio) \
reserved; reserving

Kids Definition of reserve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to arrange to have set aside and held for someone's use I called to reserve a hotel room.
2 : to keep in store for special use She believed that Sundays should be reserved for family activities.— Carl Hiaasen, Hoot
3 : to keep from using until a future time We need to reserve our strength.
4 : to hold over to a future time or place Reserve judgment until you know the facts.



Kids Definition of reserve (Entry 2 of 2)

1 reserves plural : military forces held back or available for later use
2 : an area of land set apart a nature reserve
3 : caution in words and behavior
4 : something stored for future use oil reserves
5 : an act of setting something aside for future use


re·​serve | \ ri-ˈzərv How to pronounce reserve (audio) \

Medical Definition of reserve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something stored or kept available for future use or need oxygen reserve — see cardiac reserve
2 : the capacity of a solution to neutralize alkali or acid when its reaction is shifted from one hydrogen-ion concentration to another especially : the capacity of blood or bacteriological media to react with acid or alkali within predetermined and usually physiological limits of hydrogen-ion concentration — compare buffer, buffer solution



Medical Definition of reserve (Entry 2 of 2)

: constituting or having the form or function of a reserve a reserve supply reserve strength

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reserved; reserving

Legal Definition of reserve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to keep back or set apart: as
a : to keep (a right, power, or interest) especially by express declaration all rights reserved — compare waive
b : to defer a determination of (a question of law) the justices reserved the question because it was not an issue in the case



Legal Definition of reserve (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something stored or kept available for future use an energy company with various unproven oil reserves
2 : an act of reserving
3 : money kept in a separate account to meet future liabilities
legal reserve
: the minimum amount as determined by government standards of the deposits held by a bank or of the assets of a life insurance company required by law to be kept as reserves
loss reserve
1 : a reserve allocated by a bank for the purpose of absorbing losses a loan loss reserve
2 : an insurance company's reserve representing the discounted value of future payments to be made on losses which may have already occurred
policy reserve
: an insurance company's reserve representing the difference in value between the net premiums and assumed claims for a given year in life insurance
unearned premium reserve
: a reserve of funds which represents premiums paid to an insurance company but not yet applied to policy coverage and from which a policyholder is paid a refund in the event of cancellation prior to the period for which premiums have been paid
with reserve
: with a reserve price and with a seller reserving the right to reject all bids

Note: A sale at auction is with reserve if there is no explicit indication to the contrary.

without reserve
: without a reserve price and with the seller bound to accept the highest bid

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More from Merriam-Webster on reserve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for reserve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with reserve

Spanish Central: Translation of reserve

Nglish: Translation of reserve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reserve for Arabic Speakers

Comments on reserve

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to spread as a report or rumor

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