Meaning of KEEP in English



to keep/continue to have

1. to keep something and not sell it or give or throw it away

2. to keep something so that someone else can use it later

3. to let someone keep their job

4. to keep the same character, feelings, qualities etc

to keep/store

5. to keep something in a particular place

6. to keep information

7. things of the same type that you store

to keep somebody in a place

8. to make someone stay in a place

9. to keep someone in a place as a prisoner

10. someone who is forced to stay in a place

11. when you are forced to stay somewhere


to keep doing something : ↑ CONTINUE


1. to keep something and not sell it or give or throw it away

▷ keep /kiːp/ [transitive verb]

▪ My mother kept all the letters my father ever wrote her.

▪ I’ve decided to keep my car even though it’s getting old.

▪ I keep all my tickets and boarding passes as souvenirs.

▪ Why do you want to keep all these old magazines?

▷ save /seɪv/ [transitive verb]

to keep something that you could throw away, because you might want to use it in the future :

▪ When mom died we found a box full of old newspaper clippings she had saved.

▪ Don’t throw the wrapping paper away - I’m going to save it and use it again.

▷ hold on to/hang on to /ˌhæʊld ˈɒn tuː, ˌhæŋ ˈɒn tuː/ [transitive phrasal verb] informal

to keep something, especially because you might need it or it might become valuable at a later time :

▪ Hold on to your ticket - you’ll need it to get out of the station.

▪ You should hang on to that painting. It might be worth something one day.

▪ There’s no point in hanging on to the baby clothes if you’re not going to have more kids.

▷ not part with /nɒt ˈpɑːʳt wɪð/ [verb phrase]

if someone will not part with something, they refuse to sell it or give it to anyone else because they like it so much :

▪ We offered her $200 for the lamp, but she didn’t want to part with it.

▪ Over the years he’d become very attached to his old car and wouldn’t part with it for the world.

▷ retain /rɪˈteɪn/ [transitive verb] formal

to keep something, and not sell it, give it away, or get rid of it :

▪ It is suggested that you retain copies of the documents for at least three years.

▪ The treaty would not allow any country to produce, acquire, or retain chemical weapons.

2. to keep something so that someone else can use it later

▷ keep/save something for /ˈkiːp, ˈseɪv something fɔːʳ/ [verb phrase]

to not sell or give something to anyone else, so that someone can have it or use it later :

▪ Let’s save some of this pizza for Jill.

▪ I haven’t got enough money with me right now. Can you keep the vase for me while I go to the bank?

▪ If you get any foreign stamps, could you save them for me? My nephew collects them.

▷ put something by /ˌpʊt something ˈbaɪ/ [transitive phrasal verb] British informal

to keep something for someone until they are able to collect it, pay for it etc :

▪ If I pay you for the chairs now, could you put them by and I’ll collect them tomorrow?

▷ hold /həʊld/ [transitive verb]

if a shop or a company holds something for someone, they keep it until the person can come to buy or get it :

▪ Your tickets will be held at the box office until one hour before the performance.

▪ I got the post office to hold our mail while we were away.

▷ put/set something aside for /ˌpʊt, ˌset something əˈsaɪd fɔːʳ/ [verb phrase]

to keep something separate and not use it because someone is going to buy it or use it later :

▪ One of the rooms was set aside for a yoga class.

▪ They didn’t have the dress I wanted but said they would put one aside for me when they had a delivery.

3. to let someone keep their job

▷ keep on /ˌkiːp ˈɒn/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to continue to employ someone after they have been working in the same job for a period of time, especially because they have proved that they are good at it :

keep somebody on

▪ We cannot guarantee that we will be able to keep you on at the end of your contract.

keep on somebody

▪ It seems a lot of these companies want to get rid of the old ones and keep on the young ones.

▷ retain /rɪˈteɪn/ [transitive verb] formal

to continue to employ someone, especially when you are getting rid of other people :

▪ Only four members of the original marketing team will be retained next year.

4. to keep the same character, feelings, qualities etc

▷ keep /kiːp/ [transitive verb]

▪ She’s almost 60, but she has kept her good looks.

▪ These cars are a good investment. They keep their value for many years.

▪ I don’t know how he managed to keep his sense of humour with all he’s been through.

▷ hold on to/hang on to /ˌhəʊld ˈɒn tə something, ˌhæŋ ˈɒn tə something/ [transitive phrasal verb]

to keep the same character, feelings, qualities etc in spite of difficulties :

▪ She held on to her dreams of stardom throughout her unsuccessful career.

▪ I tried desperately to hang on to my sanity as events became more and more confused.

▪ It’s hard to hang on to your dignity when everyone treats you as if you’re old and senile.

▷ retain /rɪˈteɪn/ [transitive verb] formal

to keep the same character, feelings, qualities etc in spite of other changes :

▪ The new design will be more modern, while retaining the graceful shape of the original.

▪ It’s important that you retain a sense of proportion when you’re feeling depressed.

5. to keep something in a particular place

▷ keep /kiːp/ [transitive verb not in progressive]

▪ Where do you keep the scissors?

keep something in/on/under etc something

▪ We always keep the car in the garage.

▪ My grandfather kept his teeth in a glass next to his bed.

▪ Visitors are advised to keep their valuables with them at all times.

▷ store /stɔːʳ/ [transitive verb]

to keep something for a long period of time so that it is ready for you to use when you need it :

▪ Store the medicine in a cool place.

▪ The warehouse is being used to store food and clothes for the refugees.

▪ The government plans to store the nuclear waste at a site in Nevada.

▷ keep something in storage /ˌkiːp something ɪn ˈstɔːrɪdʒ/ [verb phrase]

to store something, especially a large object or a large quantity of something, until the time when you are able to use it :

▪ All our furniture is being kept in storage until we can find a new apartment.

▪ The meat is kept in cold storage before being sent out to supermarkets.

▷ preserve /prɪˈzɜːʳv/ [transitive verb]

to store something such as food for a long time, especially after treating it in a special way so that it does not decay :

▪ Early settlers preserved meat by drying and salting it.

▪ Human organs, preserved in jars, lined the shelves of the laboratory.

▷ hoard /hɔːʳd/ [transitive verb]

to collect and keep a large quantity of something secretly, because you think it might be useful at some time in the future - use this when you think the person who does this worries too much about keeping things for the future :

▪ My grandmother hoards everything - jam jars, plastic bags, pieces of string - her house is a mess.

▪ They’ve been hoarding food and water, convinced that some kind of catastrophe is coming.

6. to keep information

▷ keep /kiːp/ [transitive verb]

to keep a lot of different pieces of information together in one place, so that you can find them when you need them :

▪ The police keep detailed information about everyone who has committed a crime.

▪ Records of all births and deaths are kept in the county offices.

▷ store /stɔːʳ/ [transitive verb]

to keep large quantities of information, especially in a computer :

▪ Huge amounts of information can be stored on a single CD-ROM.

▪ The cards can be stored alphabetically.

▪ Data regarding employees’ salaries are stored on the computer at the main office.

▷ keep something on file /ˌkiːp something ɒn ˈfaɪl/ [verb phrase]

to keep information in a computer or written down so that you can use it at a later time :

▪ We have no job openings at the moment but we will keep your details on file.

▪ Employees’ records are kept on file for one year after they have left the company.

▷ file /faɪl/ [transitive verb]

to keep information in written form and in a special order, so that it is easy to find when you need it :

▪ Barb, could you file these papers for me?

▪ All the students’ records are filed alphabetically.

file something away

▪ Once a complaint is received it is usually filed away and forgotten.

▷ keep a record/keep records /ˌkiːp ə ˈrekɔːdǁ-ərd, ˌkiːp ˈrekɔːdzǁ-ərdz/ [verb phrase]

to keep information on a particular subject, especially so that you can see how it changes or develops :

keep a record/keep records of

▪ You should keep written records of all business expenses.

▪ The scientists are keeping a record of radioactive levels in the area.

keep a record/keep records on

▪ Schools keep records on all their students.

7. things of the same type that you store

▷ supply /səˈplaɪ/ [countable noun]

a large quantity of something that you keep, and that you replace regularly because you use it often :

▪ Food supplies in the camp were already running out.

supply of

▪ The hospital keeps a large supply of blood for use in emergencies.

▪ First prize was a year’s supply of baby food.

▷ stock /stɒkǁstɑːk/ [countable noun]

the amount of a particular product that a shop keeps to be sold :

▪ Buy now while stocks last!

stock of

▪ Someone came in half an hour ago and bought up our entire stock of Italian wine.

▪ The new video store has a huge stock of movies to rent.

▷ reserve /rɪˈzɜːʳv/ [countable noun]

something such as money, food, or water that you keep because you might need it in the future :

▪ The country has foreign currency reserves of $83 billion.

reserve of

▪ We had to rely on our emergency reserve of food while we were snowed in.

keep/hold something in reserve

▪ They sold half the wood and kept the rest in reserve for winter.

▷ cache /kæʃ/ [countable noun]

things, especially illegal drugs or weapons, that are kept hidden because they are illegal or secret :

▪ The drug cache that the men were found in possession of was worth roughly $1 million.

cache of

▪ Police have found a cache of automatic weapons in a house in the city centre.

▷ hoard /hɔːʳd/ [countable noun]

a large number of things of the same type that someone keeps secretly, so that they can use them if they need them - use this when you think the person who keeps these things worries too much about keeping things for the future :

hoard of

▪ I kept my own secret hoard of chocolate cookies in a big tin under the sink.

8. to make someone stay in a place

▷ keep /kiːp/ [transitive verb]

to make someone stay in a place :

▪ They kept us there for over an hour while they checked our passports.

▪ Don’t let me keep you if you have other things to do.

▪ I’d hate to have a job that kept me in the office all the time.

keep somebody in

make a child stay at school as a punishment British

▪ The teacher kept us in after school because she said we’d been causing trouble.

keep somebody after school

make a child stay at school as a punishment American

▪ I was always getting kept after school for something when I was a kid.

keep somebody in

make someone stay in a hospital British

▪ They say they’re going to keep her in overnight for observation, then do some tests on her tomorrow.

9. to keep someone in a place as a prisoner

▷ keep /kiːp/ [transitive verb]

to make someone stay in a place and not let them leave, especially as a prisoner :

▪ You can’t keep me here against my will - get out of my way.

keep somebody in/at etc something

▪ The guerrillas were keeping the hostages in a camp somewhere in the jungle.

▪ Prisoners were kept in cells with no beds and no running water.

▷ hold /həʊld/ [transitive verb]

to keep someone somewhere, especially for a short period of time, before deciding what to do with them :

▪ Police are holding two men for questioning in connection with the robbery.

▪ No one knows where the kidnapped woman is being held.

hold somebody in/at etc something

▪ The prisoners were held at Andersonville until more suitable places were found.

▷ hold somebody prisoner/captive/hostage /ˌhəʊld somebody ˈprɪz ə nəʳ, ˈkæptɪv, ˈhɒstɪdʒǁ-ˈhɑː-/ [verb phrase]

to illegally keep someone in a place where they do not want to be, especially as a way of forcing someone to give you money or do what you want :

▪ Police raided the building where rebels were holding 73 government employees captive.

hold sb prisoner/captive/hostage in/at etc something

▪ Four other US citizens are being held hostage by guerrillas in Colombia.

▪ The woman had been held prisoner in Larkin’s basement for 3 months.

▷ lock somebody up/away /ˌlɒk somebody ˈʌp, əˈweɪǁˌlɑːk-/ [transitive phrasal verb] informal

to put someone in a place, especially a prison, and lock it so that they cannot escape :

lock somebody up/away

▪ Didn’t they lock his brother away for murder?

lock up/away somebody

▪ The governor argues that locking up criminals has reduced the crime rate.

▪ Prisoners are locked up in their cells for twenty three hours a day.

▷ confine /kənˈfaɪn/ [transitive verb usually in passive]

to keep someone in a room or small place, so that they cannot go where they want to :

confine somebody in something

▪ The boy had been confined in a dark narrow room from early childhood by his parents.

confine somebody to something

▪ The judge is confining the jury to their hotel until after the verdict.

▷ detain /dɪˈteɪn/ [transitive verb usually in passive]

if the police detain someone who they think has done something illegal, they keep them somewhere, usually in order to ask them questions :

▪ Three men from the ship have been detained for questioning by the Harbour Authorities.

▪ The police are now allowed to detain terrorist suspects for as long as a week.

▷ hold/keep somebody in custody /ˌhəʊld, ˌkiːp somebody ɪn ˈkʌstədi/ [verb phrase]

if the police hold or keep someone in custody they keep them in prison until it is time for them to be judged in a court :

▪ McCullough will be kept in custody until her trial on May 3rd.

hold/keep somebody in police custody

in a police station

▪ A man has been arrested in connection with the murder and is being held in police custody.

10. someone who is forced to stay in a place

▷ prisoner /ˈprɪz ə nəʳ/ [countable noun]

someone who is kept in a place, especially a prison, as punishment for a crime :

▪ The state now has 152,000 prisoners in 32 prisons.

prisoner of war

someone who is kept prisoner by the enemy during a war

▪ Her father spent three years as a prisoner of war in Korea.

political prisoner

someone who is in prison because of their political beliefs

▪ There have been reports of the systematic torture of political prisoners.

take somebody prisoner

make someone your prisoner

▪ All the soldiers were either killed or taken prisoner.

▷ captive /ˈkæptɪv/ [countable noun]

someone who is kept in a place illegally :

▪ All the captives were kept in a darkened room with their hands tied.

▪ The rebels promise to release their captives unharmed if their demands are met.

take somebody captive

make someone your captive

▪ Armed gunmen broke into the church and took the priest captive.

▷ hostage /ˈhɒstɪdʒǁˈhɑː-/ [countable noun]

someone who is illegally kept in a place by someone who threatens to harm or kill them as a way of making someone else pay money or do what they want :

▪ The group has threatened to kill the hostages unless the government frees 15 political prisoners.

▪ An attempt to rescue the American hostages ended in disaster.

take somebody hostage

make someone your hostage

▪ The medical team were captured and taken hostage.

11. when you are forced to stay somewhere

▷ be in custody /biː ɪn ˈkʌstədi/ [verb phrase]

if someone who the police think is guilty of a crime is in custody, they are kept in prison until it is time for them to be judged in a court :

▪ Parry was in custody for a month before being released.

be in police custody

in a police station

▪ The activist died under suspicious circumstances while he was in police custody.

be remanded in custody

be sent back to prison from a court until your trial

▪ Three men and a woman have been remanded in custody on fraud charges.

▷ be under arrest /biː ˌʌndər əˈrest/ [verb phrase]

if someone is under arrest, the police are keeping them guarded because they think they are guilty of a crime :

▪ He’s under arrest and may only be seen by his lawyer.

be under house arrest

not be allowed to leave your home

▪ The opposition leader has been under house arrest for the past few months.

▷ captivity /kæpˈtɪvɪti, kæpˈtɪvəti/ [uncountable noun]

when someone is being forced to stay in a place where they do not want to be - use this when this situation is illegal or wrong :

▪ In his autobiography, Mandela describes his life during captivity.

in captivity

▪ The hostages are now entering their fourth week in captivity.

▷ imprisonment /ɪmˈprɪz ə nmənt/ [uncountable noun]

when someone is being kept as a prisoner, especially as a punishment for a crime :

▪ Johnson was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for causing a riot.

▪ The offence is punishable by either a fine or imprisonment.

life imprisonment

for the rest of someone’s life

▪ Garrison faces life imprisonment for his role in the killings.

▷ detention /dɪˈtenʃ ə n/ [uncountable noun]

when someone is being kept somewhere by the police, usually because they think that person has done something illegal and they want to ask them questions :

▪ By the 1920s the average period of detention for new immigrants lasted two weeks.

▪ A dissident, recently released from detention, gave a press conference in the capital today.

in detention

▪ About a dozen people remain in detention without trial.

take somebody into detention

▪ They were taken into detention two weeks ago and still are not allowed visitors.

detention center

a place where someone is kept by the police

▪ There was another riot at the men’s detention center yesterday.

juvenile detention

a place that is like a prison for young people American

▪ He was in and out of juvenile detention for drugs charges as a teenager.

▷ confinement /kənˈfaɪnmənt/ [uncountable noun]

when someone is being kept in a room, prison etc :

▪ He was sentenced to 5 months of home confinement for the crime.

solitary confinement

the state of being kept completely alone

▪ Prisoners are punished by being put in solitary confinement.

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