with·​hold | \ with-ˈhōld How to pronounce withhold (audio) , wit͟h- \
withheld\ with-​ˈheld How to pronounce withhold (audio) , 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

Other Words from withhold

withholder noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for withhold



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Rehnquist also tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade colleagues to agree for the future to withhold private documents for set periods, for example, as long as all justices with whom an individual served had retired or died. Joan Biskupic, CNN, 23 Nov. 2021 Trump claims executive privilege gives him the right to withhold the documents, which include call logs and handwritten memos from then-chief of staff Mark Meadows. Harold Maass, The Week, 12 Nov. 2021 But the judge indicated the power to assert executive privilege claimed by Trump to withhold the records from Congress ultimately rests with the current president, Joe Biden, who has waived privilege and approved their release. Washington Post, 4 Nov. 2021 Trump lawyers are advising witnesses not to comply with congressional investigators, though the Biden Administration has rejected Trump's attempts to withhold documents from the investigating panel. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 20 Oct. 2021 Numerous cases spilled into the courts over access to documents, testimony and witnesses, including two cases that went to the Supreme Court on the powers of the presidency to withhold documents. Byron Tau, WSJ, 16 Oct. 2021 Westerberg said no other state or local government body is allowed to withhold all records related to human resources matters. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 30 June 2021 Police departments have routinely used New Mexico Statute 14-2-1 (A)(3) to withhold records from the public. Star Tribune, 12 May 2021 Courts disagreed about the retroactivity issue but Becerra continued to withhold other records from misconduct incidents. Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 May 2021

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.

See More

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

Learn More About withhold

Time Traveler for withhold

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near withhold

with guns blazing


withholding tax

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for withhold

Last Updated

19 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Withhold.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/withhold. Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for withhold



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 How to pronounce withhold (audio) , wit͟h- \
withheld\ -​ˈheld \; withholding

Kids Definition of withhold

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

More from Merriam-Webster on withhold

Nglish: Translation of withhold for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of withhold for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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