p) KEY VERB: kept
, keeps VERB: tr.
- To retain possession of: kept the change; must keep your composure.
- To have as a supply: keep an ax in the shed.
- To provide (a family, for example) with maintenance and support: "There's little to earn and many to keep" (Charles Kingsley).
- To support (a mistress or lover) financially.
- To put customarily; store: Where do you keep your saw?
- To supply with room and board for a charge: keep boarders.
- To raise: keep chickens.
- To maintain for use or service: an urbanite who didn't keep a car.
- To manage, tend, or have charge of: Keep the shop while I'm away.
- To preserve (food).
- To cause to continue in a state, condition, or course of action: tried to keep the patient calm.
- To maintain records in: keep a yearly diary.
- To enter (data) in a book: keep financial records.
- To detain: was kept after school.
- To restrain: kept the child away from the stove; kept the crowd back with barriers.
- To prevent or deter: tried to keep the ice from melting.
- To refrain from divulging: keep a secret.
- To save; reserve: keep extra money for emergencies.
- To adhere or conform to; follow: keep late hours.
- To be faithful to; fulfill: keep one's word.
- To celebrate; observe.
- To remain in a state or condition; stay: keep in line; keep quiet; kept well.
- To continue to do: keep on talking; keep guessing.
- To remain fresh or unspoiled: The dessert won't keep.
- To restrain oneself; hold oneself back: I couldn't keep from eavesdropping.
PHRASAL VERBS: keep at
- Care; charge: The child is in my keep for the day.
- The means by which one is supported: earn one's keep.
- The stronghold of a castle.
- A jail.
- To persevere in work or an action.
- To prevent from growing, accomplishing, or succeeding: keep the revolutionaries down.
- To hold under control or at a reduced level: Keep your voice down.
- To refrain from vomiting: Although seasick, I managed to keep my food down.
- To stay away from.
- To adhere to: keep to the original purpose.
IDIOMS: for keeps
- To maintain in good condition: kept up the property.
- To persevere in; carry on: We asked her to stop talking, but she kept it up.
- To preserve or sustain: kept up the appearance of friendship.
- To continue at the same level or pace: The snow kept up all day.
- To continue to pay off (a financial obligation).
- To match one's competitors, colleagues, or neighbors in success or lifestyle: couldn't keep up with his friends who went into business.
- To remain adequately informed: loved to keep up on the gossip.
keep an eye on
- For an indefinitely long period: gave the ring to me for keeps.
- Seriously and permanently: We're separating for keeps.
keep an eye out
- To watch over attentively; mind.
- To watch closely or carefully: keep your eye on the ball.
keep a stiff upper lip
- To be watchful.
- To be courageous or stoic in the face of adversity.
keep (one's) chin up
- To carry on a courtship: a couple who kept company but never married.
- To socialize or associate: keeps company with some tough thugs.
keep (one's) eyes open/peeled
- To be stalwart, courageous, or optimistic in the face of difficulty.
keep (one's) nose clean Informal
- To be on the lookout.
- To stay out of trouble.
keep (someone) company
- To stay even with others, as in a contest.
keep the wolf from the door
- To accompany or remain with.
- To avoid the privation and suffering resulting from a lack of money: Both spouses had to work in order to keep the wolf from the door.
keep to (oneself)
- To indicate the correct time.
- Music To maintain the tempo or rhythm.
- To shun the company of others: She kept to herself all morning.
- To refrain from divulging: He kept the news to himself.
Middle English kepen
, from Old English cpan
, to observe, seizeSYNONYMS: keep, retain, withhold, reserve
These verbs mean to have and maintain in one's possession or control. Keep
is the most general: We received a few offers but decided to keep the house. Retain
means to continue to hold, especially in the face of possible loss: Though unhappy, he retained his sense of humor. Withhold
implies reluctance or refusal to give, grant, or allow: The tenant withheld his rent until the owner fixed the boiler.
is to hold back for the future or for a special purpose: The farmer reserved two acres for an orchard.
See also Synonyms at observe