hold

1 of 3

verb

held ˈheld How to pronounce hold (audio) ; holding

transitive verb

1
a
: to have possession or ownership of or have at one's disposal
holds property worth millions
the bank holds the title to the car
b
: to have as a privilege or position of responsibility
hold a professorship
c
: to have as a mark of distinction
holds the record for the 100-yard dash
holds a PhD
2
: to keep under restraint
hold price increases to a minimum
: such as
a
: to prevent free expression of
hold your temper
b
: to prevent from some action
ordered the troops to hold fire
the only restraining motive which may hold the hand of a tyrantThomas Jefferson
c
: to keep back from use
ask them to hold a room for us
I'll have a hot dog, and hold the mustard
d
: to delay temporarily the handling of
please hold all my calls
3
: to make liable or accountable or bound to an obligation
I'll hold you to your promise
4
a
: to have or maintain in the grasp
hold my hand
this is how you hold the racket
also : aim, point
held a gun on them
b
: to support in a particular position or keep from falling or moving
hold me up so I can see
hold the ladder steady
a clamp holds the whole thing together
hold your head up
c
: to bear the pressure of : support
can the roof hold all of that weight
5
: to prevent from leaving or getting away
hold the train
: such as
a
: to avoid emitting or letting out
how long can you hold your breath
b
: to restrain as or as if a captive
the suspect was held without bail
held them at gunpoint
also : to have strong appeal to
the book held my interest throughout
6
a
: to enclose and keep in a container or within bounds : contain
the jug holds one gallon
this corral will not hold all of the horses
b
: to be able to consume easily or without undue effect
can't hold any more pie
especially : to be able to drink (alcoholic beverages) without becoming noticeably drunk
can't hold your liquor
c
: accommodate
the restaurant holds 400 diners
d
: to have as a principal or essential feature or attribute
the book holds a number of surprises
also : to have in store
no one knows what the future holds
7
a
: to have in the mind or express as a judgment, opinion, or belief
I hold the view that this is wrong
hold a grudge
holding that it is nobody's business but hisJack Olsen
often used with against
in America they hold everything you say against youPaul McCartney
b
: to think of in a particular way : regard
were held in high esteem
8
a
: to assemble for and carry on the activity of
held a convention
b
: to cause to be carried on : conduct
will hold a seminar
c
: to produce or sponsor especially as a public exhibition
will hold an art show
9
a
: to maintain occupation, control, or defense of
the troops held the ridge
also : to resist the offensive efforts or advance of
held the opposing team to just two points
b
: to maintain (a certain condition, situation, or course of action) without change
hold a course due east
10
: to cover (a part of the body) with one or both hands (as for protection or comfort)
held his knee after the fall
especially : to cover (the ears) to prevent hearing
held her ears when the train went by

intransitive verb

1
a
: to maintain position : refuse to give ground
the defensive line is holding
b
: to continue in the same way or to the same degree : last entry 1
hopes the weather will hold
often used with up
2
: to derive right or title
often used with of or from
lands held of the Crown
3
: to be or remain valid : apply
the rule holds in most cases
often used in the phrase hold true
4
: to maintain a grasp on something : remain fastened to something
the anchor held in the rough sea
5
: to go ahead as one has been going
held south for several miles
6
: to bear or carry oneself
asked him to hold still
7
: to forbear an intended or threatened action : halt, pause
often used as a command
8
: to stop counting during a countdown
9
slang : to have illicit drug material in one's possession

hold

2 of 3

noun (1)

1
2
3
a(1)
: the act or the manner of grasping something (as in the hands or arms) : grip
released his hold on the handle
took hold of the rope
(2)
: a manner of grasping an opponent in wrestling
applied an illegal hold
b
: a nonphysical bond that attaches, restrains, or constrains or by which something is affected, controlled, or dominated
trying to tighten her hold on the company's finances
has lost its hold on the broad publicOscar Cargill
c
: full comprehension
get hold of exactly what is happeningJ. P. Lyford
d
: full or immediate control : possession
get hold of yourself
wants to get hold of a road map
e
: touch sense 8
used with of
tried to get hold of you, but you never answered your phone
4
: something that may be grasped as a support
searched for holds in the rock
5
a
music : fermata
b
: the time between the onset and the release (see release entry 2 sense 3c) of a vocal articulation (see articulation sense 3b)
6
: a sudden motionless posture at the end of a dance
7
a
: an order or indication that something is to be reserved or delayed
I asked the library to put a hold on the book for me.
b
: a delay in a countdown (as in launching a spacecraft)

see also take hold

hold

3 of 3

noun (2)

1
: the interior of a ship below decks
especially : the cargo deck of a ship
2
: the cargo compartment of a plane
Phrases
hold a brief for
: advocate, defend
usually used in negative constructions
I hold no brief for cartels and market allocationsJ. D. Upham
hold a candle to
: to qualify for comparison with
doesn't hold a candle to what she has suffered
hold court
: to be the center of attention among friends or admirers
hold forth
: to speak at length : expatiate
holding forth on the subject of politics
hold hands
: to engage one's hand with another's especially as an expression of affection
hold one's breath
1
: to prevent oneself from breathing temporarily
2
: to wait in anxious anticipation
hold one's horses
: to slow down or stop for a moment
usually used in the imperative
hold one's own
: to maintain one's position : prove equal to opposition
prove I can hold my own with the best of them
hold one's tongue or hold one's peace
: to keep silent : keep one's thoughts to oneself
hold sway
: to have a dominant influence : rule
hold the bag
1
: to be left empty-handed
2
: to bear alone a responsibility that should have been shared by others
She was left holding the bag for their mistakes.
hold the fort
1
: to maintain a firm position
2
: to take care of usual affairs
is holding the fort until the manager returns
hold the line
: to maintain the current position or situation
hold the line on prices
hold to
: to give firm assent to : adhere to strongly
holds to his promise
hold to account
: to hold responsible
hold water
: to stand up under criticism or analysis
Their version of events doesn't hold water.
hold with
: to agree with or approve of
don't hold with violence
on hold
1
: in a state of interruption during a telephone call when one party switches to another line without totally disconnecting the other party
put me on hold while he talked to his supervisor
2
: in a state or period of indefinite suspension
put our plans on hold
Choose the Right Synonym for hold

contain, hold, accommodate mean to have or be capable of having within.

contain implies the actual presence of a specified substance or quantity within something.

the can contains a quart of oil

hold implies the capacity of containing or the usual or permanent function of containing or keeping.

the bookcase will hold all my textbooks

accommodate stresses holding without crowding or inconvenience.

the hall can accommodate 500 people

Examples of hold in a Sentence

Verb Hold the rail so you won't fall. He was holding a large package in his arms. Would you hold this for me? She showed him the correct way to hold the racket. Some people just don't like to be held. He held her close and kissed her. He held the pen in his mouth while he dialed the number. Hold the pen upright when you write. She picked up the trophy and held it over her head. You have to hold the button down for several seconds. Noun (1) make sure you have a firm hold on the chain saw before you turn it on the ruins of an ancient Roman hold the government has no hold over where we live and work I worry that I won't be able to get hold of you in an emergency upon hearing the guilty verdict, the accused realized that he would lie in that godforsaken hold for the remainder of his life I need to get hold of the situation before planning a course of action a suspected terrorist who was abducted at an airport and put in hold at an undisclosed location
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
In one of the essays, Fern, Andi, Carolina, and Emma hold a tea party while wearing wedding dresses, a celebration of sorts for Emma, who’d just ended her engagement. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, 12 May 2024 June 27: The second round of the NBA Draft, with the Heat holding the 43rd overall pick in the second round. Anthony Chiang, Miami Herald, 12 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for hold 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hold.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun (1)

Middle English holden, going back to Old English healdan, going back to Germanic *hald-a-, whence also Old High German haltan "to protect, guard, hold," Old Saxon haldan, Old Norse halda, Gothic haldan "to tend, graze (cattle)"; perhaps, if -d- (going back to Indo-European *-dh-) is a root extension with resultative meaning, a derivative from the Indo-European base *kel- "drive, urge" (whence Greek kelésthai "to urge, exhort"), with sense shift from "pasture" to "keep, protect" to "hold" — more at accelerate

Noun (2)

alteration of hole

First Known Use

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hold was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near hold

Cite this Entry

“Hold.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hold. Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

hold

1 of 3 verb
held ˈheld How to pronounce hold (audio) ; holding
1
a
: to keep in one's possession : possess, have
hold this for me
b
: to have by right
hold property
hold a bachelor's degree
hold elective office
2
a
: to keep or restrict by force
the troops held the bridge
b
: to restrain especially by keeping back
hold your temper
c
: delay entry 2 sense 2
held the train
d
: to keep back from use
will hold the seats for us
e
: to make accept a legal or moral duty
I'll hold you to your word
3
a
: to have or keep in the grasp
hold the pen upright
b
: to cause to be or remain in a place, position, or situation
hold the ladder steady
c
: to remain fastened
the anchor held
d
: support entry 1 sense 4a, sustain
the floor will hold 10 metric tons
e
: to keep as or as if a captive
held without bail
4
: to bear or carry oneself
please hold still
5
a
: to keep up without interruption
hold silence
b
: to keep the interest or devotion of
the play held the audience
6
: to receive and contain
the bottle holds two liters
7
a
: to have in mind : entertain
hold a theory
b
: consider sense 3, judge
was held to be the best
8
: to carry on as a group
hold a meeting
9
a
: to maintain position
the line held under attack
b
: to continue unchanged : last
their interest held up
hope the weather holds
10
: to be true : apply
the rule holds in most cases
11
: to refrain from an act : halt, pause

hold

2 of 3 noun
1
2
: the act or manner of holding : grip, grasp
have a hold on the rope
3
: a manner of grasping the opponent in wrestling
4
a
: full or immediate control
get hold of yourself
b
: touch sense 4
trying to get a hold of you
5
: a bond that affects or controls : power
the law has no hold over this person
6
: something that may be grasped or held
7
: a note or rest in music that is continued longer than usual
8
a
: an order or indication that something is to be reserved or delayed
b
: stoppage, halt
a hold in a rocket countdown

hold

3 of 3 noun
1
: the interior of a ship below decks
especially : the cargo deck of a ship
2
: the cargo compartment of an airplane
Etymology

Verb

Old English healdan "to hold, own"

Noun

an altered form of hole

Legal Definition

hold

transitive verb
held; holding
1
a
: to have lawful possession or ownership of
held the property as tenants in common
the band holds the title to the car
b
: to have as a privilege or position of responsibility
holding a retail liquor license
the judges…shall hold their offices during good behaviorU.S. Constitution art. III
2
: to restrain the liberty of
specifically : to keep in custody
the defendant will be held without bail
3
: to cause to be conducted
will hold a hearing on the matter
4
: to rule as the holding of a case
the court held that such conduct violated the statute
compare decide, find

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