with·hold | \ with-ˈhōld , wit͟h- \
withheld\with-ˈheld, wit͟h- \; withholding

Definition of withhold 

transitive verb

1 : to hold back from action : check

2 archaic : to keep in custody

3 : to refrain from granting, giving, or allowing withhold permission

4 : to deduct (withholding tax) from income

intransitive verb

: forbear, refrain withhold from commenting

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Other words from withhold

withholder noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for withhold


decline, deny, disallow, disapprove, negative, nix, refuse, reject, reprobate


allow, concede, grant, let, OK (or okay), permit

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Choose the Right Synonym for withhold

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 withhold in a Sentence

She was accused of withholding evidence. She has $20 withheld from her paycheck every week.

Recent Examples on the Web

In November, eight former park employees claimed the park was confining its animals to small, filthy enclosures, leaving medical problems untreated, and withholding food. Chabeli Herrera, miamiherald, "Monkey Jungle has reopened. Here is what has happened since the animal-abuse allegations.," 12 July 2018 The service member's identity was being withheld pending notification of family members. CBS News, "American service member killed in Afghanistan, second U.S. death in 6 days," 12 July 2018 The second source of crisis arises from Mr. Trump withholding support for the appointment of new judges to the WTO’s appellate body, the ultimate arbiter of international trade disputes. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Trump Puts the WTO on the Ropes," 11 July 2018 The victim, whose name was withheld pending family notification, died at the scene of the accident. City News Service, Ramona Sentinel, "Woman dies in car crash," 20 June 2018 Police said identifications are being withheld becasue of the ages of the people involved. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "17-year-old dead, 16-year-old arrested after fight at Lebanon muffler shop," 4 June 2018 Then last week, defense attorneys entered a filing poking holes in two other state witnesses and accusing prosecutors of withholding evidence. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "San Antonio lovers' lane killer scheduled for execution today amid claims of innocence," 16 May 2018 The report could have helped buttress their argument that the government should continue to fund the plane as part of its effort to win the Cold War, but A.E.I. had withheld it until after the Senate voted on the issue so as not to bias the debate. Jonathan Mahler, New York Times, "How One Conservative Think Tank Is Stocking Trump’s Government," 20 June 2018 Give some people the treatment; withhold it from others; see who fares best. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Putting Napping to the Test," 18 June 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for withhold

Middle English, from with from + holden to hold — more at with

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Statistics for withhold

Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for withhold

The first known use of withhold was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for withhold



Financial Definition of withhold

What It Is

Withholding refers to withholding tax, which is an amount that employers withhold from an employee's paycheck and remit to local and federal taxing authorities on behalf of the employee.

How It Works

For example, let's say John Doe's salary is $24,000 a year. Though he makes $2,000 a month, he only brings home $1,800 because his employer takes $200 out of his paycheck and remits it to the state and the federal government on his behalf. The payments go toward John Doe's federal income tax, state income tax, unemployment, and Medicare liabilities.

The amount of withholding is influenced by what John Doe puts on his IRS Form W-4 ("Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate"), which he provides to the employer and on which he indicates how many dependents he has and his marital status, among other things. A copy goes directly to the IRS. Generally, the more allowances the employee claims on a Form W-4, the lower the withholding tax.

Withholding tax applies to income earned through wages, pensions, bonuses, commissions, and gambling winnings. Dividends and capital gains, for example, are not subject to withholding tax. Self-employed people generally don't pay withholding taxes; they typically make quarterly estimated payments instead.

Why It Matters

Withholding tax prevents people from being blindsided by huge tax bills on April 15. By having their employers remit a little out of each paycheck, federal and local governments also ensure steady cash flow throughout the year and reduce the risk that taxpayers will be unable to pay their taxes. A person's tax liability may still be more or less than what he or she pays in withholding taxes in a year. In those cases, the taxpayer may have to pay more money on April 15 or may receive a tax refund. It is important to note that accuracy in payroll is crucial; any mistakes in remitting withholding tax are generally the taxpayer's problem even if they are the employer's fault.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of withhold

: to hold (something) back

: to refuse to provide (something)

: to take out (an amount of money for taxes) from someone's income


with·hold | \ with-ˈhōld , wit͟h- \
withheld\-ˈheld \; withholding

Kids Definition of withhold

: to refuse to give, grant, or allow The teacher withheld permission.

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