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

China too could affect the process, either by influencing North Korea or by withholding its own assent to an eventual peace treaty. James Griffiths, CNN, "Could Trump and Kim agree to a peace treaty ending the Korean War?," 9 June 2018 USAA Federal Savings Bank withholds a certain amount of an insurance payout until there's proof that the person has replaced the lost item, prosecutors write. Laurel Andrews, Anchorage Daily News, "Charges say Anchorage US Army officer lied about thefts to collect $400K in insurance money," 25 May 2018 So the conservatives are suggesting that months before an election in which Republicans may lose control of the House by just a few seats, the leadership should punish their weakest members by withholding campaign money. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Freedom Caucus’s Cunning Plan Could Hand the House to Democrats," 23 May 2018 Yost says by misleading state regulators by withholding information the company may have broken the law. Julie Carr Smyth, Cincinnati.com, "Audit: Ohio e-school inflated time students spent learning," 10 May 2018 The world's most prestigious prizes in science, medicine, literature, and peacemaking have been withheld 49 times in all since the honors based on the will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel began in 1901. Jan M. Olsen, The Christian Science Monitor, "In the face of scandals, no Nobel literature prize will be awarded this year," 4 May 2018 The driver was a man from Lake Villa Township, but his identity was being withheld Friday morning pending notification of family members, Covelli said. Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, "Man dies in Antioch Township crash Friday; second motorcycle death in Lake County this week," 13 July 2018 Though Landen did not die immediately, the injury was untreatable and therefore no lifesaving medical intervention was withheld, it was argued. Michael Kiefer, azcentral, "Lawyer: Man charged in son's death apparently took his own life on Father's Day," 26 June 2018 Board certified real estate attorney Gary Singer advises a reader question about withholding dues to enact changes in a homeowner's association. Houston Chronicle, "Statute of limitations in Fla. probate probably doesn’t extend 10 years," 2 July 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

15 Nov 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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Comments on withhold

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


by force of circumstances

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