\ ˈhōld How to pronounce hold (audio) \
held\ ˈheld How to pronounce hold (audio) \; holding

Definition of hold

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : 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 tyrant— Thomas 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
4a : 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
6a : 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
7a : 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 his— Jack Olsen often used with against in America they hold everything you say against you— Paul McCartney
b : to think of in a particular way : regard were held in high esteem
8a : 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
9a : 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

1a : 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 a brief for
: advocate, defend usually used in negative constructions I hold no brief for cartels and market allocations— J. 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


noun (1)

Definition of hold (Entry 2 of 3)

3a(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 public— Oscar Cargill
c : full comprehension get hold of exactly what is happening— J. 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
5a 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
7a : 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)
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

— see also take hold


noun (2)

Definition of hold (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : the interior of a ship below decks especially : the cargo deck of a ship
2 : the cargo compartment of a plane

Synonyms for hold

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun (1)

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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. See More

First Known Use of hold


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

History and Etymology for hold

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

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Time Traveler for hold

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Hold.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hold. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for hold


\ ˈhōld How to pronounce hold (audio) \
held\ ˈheld \; holding

Kids Definition of hold

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to have or keep a grip on hold a book She held the child's hand.
2 : to take in and have within : contain This jar holds a quart.
3 : support entry 1 sense 1 The floor will hold ten tons.
4 : to carry on by group action The club held a meeting.
5 : to have as a position of responsibility She holds the office of treasurer.
6 : to continue in the same way or state : last According to the forecast, good weather will hold.
7 : to remain fast or fastened The lock held.
8 : to have or keep possession or control of Soldiers held the fort.
9 : to have in mind They hold different opinions.
10 : to limit the movement or activity of : restrain A nut holds the bolt. Please hold the dogs.
11 : to continue in a condition or position Can you hold still a minute?
12 : to continue moving on (a course) without change
13 : to make accept a legal or moral duty They held me to my promise.
14 : consider sense 3, regard He is widely held to be a genius.
hold out
1 : to continue to be present or exist My money held out until I got paid.
2 : to refuse to yield or agree The soldiers held out until help arrived.
hold up
1 : delay entry 2 sense 2 Police are holding up traffic.
2 : to rob while threatening with a weapon

Other Words from hold

holder \ ˈhōl-​dər \ noun



Kids Definition of hold (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : the act or way of holding : grip He had a tight hold on the rope.
2 : a note or rest in music kept up longer than usual



Kids Definition of hold (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : the part of a ship below the decks in which cargo is stored
2 : the cargo compartment of an airplane


transitive verb
held; holding

Legal Definition of hold

1a : 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

More from Merriam-Webster on hold

Nglish: Translation of hold for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hold for Arabic Speakers


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