Synonyms & Antonyms of reserve

(Entry 1 of 2)

2 a collection of things kept available for future use or need
  • our fuel reserves are low

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3 a person or thing that takes the place of another
  • when the first brigade fell back in retreat, the commander sent out the reserves to try to hold the line of battle

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4 an interchangeable part or piece of equipment that is kept on hand for replacement of an original
  • don't throw that extra bike chain away, as I want to keep it as a reserve in case the current one breaks

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Synonyms & Antonyms of reserve (Entry 2 of 2)

1 to arrange to have something (as a hotel room) held for one's future use
  • we made sure to reserve a kennel for our dog several months before the start of the family vacation

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2 to continue to have in one's possession or power
  • I'm reserving the right to work by myself if you don't do your share of the project

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Antonyms for reserve

3 to keep or intend for a special purpose
  • we must reserve this cup for ceremonial use only

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About reserve

How is the word reserve distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of reserve are detain, keep, retain, and withhold. While all these words mean "to hold in one's possession or under one's control," reserve suggests a keeping in store for future use.

reserve some of your energy for the last mile

Where would detain be a reasonable alternative to reserve?

While the synonyms detain and reserve are close in meaning, detain suggests a delay in letting go.

detained them for questioning

When could keep be used to replace reserve?

The meanings of keep and reserve largely overlap; however, keep may suggest a holding securely in one's possession, custody, or control.

keep this while I'm gone

When might retain be a better fit than reserve?

In some situations, the words retain and reserve are roughly equivalent. However, retain implies continued keeping, especially against threatened seizure or forced loss.

managed to retain their dignity even in poverty

When can withhold be used instead of reserve?

The words withhold and reserve are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, withhold implies restraint in letting go or a refusal to let go.

withheld information from the authorities

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Time Traveler for reserve

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Reserve.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on reserve

Nglish: Translation of reserve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reserve for Arabic Speakers


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