Meaning of HOLD in English


I. hold 1 S1 W1 /həʊld $ hoʊld/ BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle held /held/)

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ hold , ↑ holder , ↑ holding ; verb : ↑ hold ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: healdan ]


a) [transitive] to have something in your hand, hands, or arms:

Could you hold my bag for me?

hold something in your hand/arms

He was holding a knife in one hand.

I held the baby in my arms.

hold hands (=hold each other’s hands)

They sat holding hands under a tree.

hold somebody close/tightly (=with your arms around someone)

Max held her close and wiped away her tears.

b) [transitive always + adverb/preposition] to move your hand or something in your hand in a particular direction

hold something out/up etc

He held out his hand to help her to her feet.

Hold the picture up so we can see it.

2 . EVENT [transitive] to have a meeting, party, election etc in a particular place or at a particular time:

This year’s conference will be held at the Hilton Hotel.

A thanksgiving ceremony was held to mark the occasion.

The funeral was held on a grey day in November.

In April, the President held talks with Chinese leaders.

3 . KEEP SOMETHING IN POSITION [transitive] to make something stay in a particular position

hold something open/up etc

We used rolled-up newspapers to hold the windows open.

Remember to hold your head up and keep your back straight.

hold something in place/position

A couple of screws should hold it in place.

Lift your head off the floor and hold this position for five seconds.

4 . JOB/TITLE [transitive]

a) to have a particular job or position, especially an important one:

Do you really think he’s capable of holding such a responsible position?

hold the post/position/office etc (of something)

She was the first woman to hold the office of Australian state premier.

The governor had held the post since 1989.

Whoever is elected will hold office (=have an important political position) for four years.

b) to have a particular title or record, because you have won a competition, are the best at something etc:

The programme still holds the record for the longest running TV series.

The last Briton to hold the title was Bert Nicholson.

5 . KEEP/STORE [transitive] to keep something to be used when it is needed:

Further copies of the book are held in the library.

Weapons were held at various sites.

6 . KEEP SOMETHING AVAILABLE FOR SOMEBODY [transitive] to agree not to give something such as a ticket, a place at a restaurant, a job etc to anyone except a particular person:

We can hold the reservation for you until next Friday.

hold something open

You can’t expect them to hold the job open for much longer – you’ll have to decide whether you want it or not.

7 . KEEP SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE [transitive] to keep someone somewhere, and not allow them to leave:

Police are holding two men in connection with the robbery.

hold somebody prisoner/hostage/captive

A senior army officer was held hostage for four months.

hold somebody incommunicado (=keep someone somewhere and not allow them to communicate with anyone)

8 . OPINION [transitive not in progressive] to have a particular opinion or belief:

Experts hold varying opinions as to the causes of the disease.

be widely/generally/commonly held (=be the opinion of a lot of people)

This view is not widely held.

be held to be something

She was held to be one of the most talented actors of her time.

hold that

The judge held that the child’s interests in this case must come first.

9 . hold somebody responsible/accountable/liable (for something) to say or decide that someone should accept the responsibility for something bad that happens:

If anything happens to her, I’ll hold you personally responsible.

He may have had a terrible childhood, but he should still be held accountable for his own actions.

10 . OWN SOMETHING [transitive] to officially own or possess money, a document, a company etc:

He holds shares in ICI.

Do you hold a valid passport?

a privately held company

11 . CONTAIN A PARTICULAR AMOUNT [transitive not in progressive] to have the space to contain a particular amount of something:

The movie theater holds 500 people.

The tank should hold enough to last us a few days.

12 . SUPPORT [intransitive and transitive] to be strong enough to support the weight of something or someone:

Careful! I’m not sure that branch will hold you.

The bridge didn’t look as though it would hold.

13 . STAY AT SAME LEVEL [intransitive and transitive] to stay at a particular amount, level, or rate, or to make something do this:

The bank is holding interest rates at 4%.

Since then, the pound has held steady against the dollar.

hold sb’s interest/attention (=make someone stay interested)

Colourful pictures help hold the students’ interest.

14 . NOT CHANGE [intransitive] to continue to be true, good, available etc:

What I said yesterday holds.

Does your invitation still hold?

hold true/good

Twenty years on, his advice still holds good.

weather/luck holds (out) (=continues to be good)

If our luck holds, we could reach the final.

15 . STOP/DELAY [transitive] spoken used in particular phrases to tell someone to wait or not to do something:

I’ll have a tuna fish sandwich please – and hold the mayo (=do not give me any) .

hold it!

Hold it! We’re not quite ready.

hold your horses! (=used to tell someone to do something more slowly or carefully)

16 . hold your head up ( also hold your head high ) to behave as if you are proud of yourself or respect yourself:

They may have lost the game, but I still think they’ve earned the right to hold their heads high today.

17 . hold your breath

a) to deliberately not breathe out for a short time:

Hold your breath and count to ten.

b) to not breathe out and try not to make a sound because you do not want to be noticed:

Julie shrank back against the wall and held her breath.

c) not hold your breath spoken used to say that you do not expect something to happen, even though someone has said it will:

He promised he’d phone, but I’m not holding my breath.

18 . hold (your) fire

a) to not shoot at someone when you were going to

b) to not criticize, attack, or oppose someone when you were going to:

The President urged his party to hold fire on the issue a few days longer.

19 . TELEPHONE [intransitive] ( also hold the line ) spoken to wait until the person you have telephoned is ready to answer:

Mr Stevens is busy at the moment – would you like to hold?

Please hold the line while I transfer you.

20 . ARMY [transitive] if an army holds a place, it controls it or defends it from attack:

The French army held the town for three days.

21 . MUSICAL NOTE [transitive] to make a musical note continue for a particular length of time

22 . FUTURE [transitive] formal if the future holds something, that is what may happen:

Thousands of workers are waiting to see what the future holds.

23 . HAVE A QUALITY [transitive] formal to have a particular quality

hold (little) interest/appeal/promise etc

Many church services hold little appeal for modern tastes.

24 . hold your own (against somebody) to successfully defend yourself or succeed in a difficult situation, competition etc:

He was a good enough player to hold his own against the Americans.

25 . not hold a candle to somebody/something to be much worse than someone or something else

26 . be left holding the baby British English , be left holding the bag American English to be left as the only person responsible for dealing with a difficult situation, especially something someone else started:

He was left holding the financial baby when his musical partner joined another band.

27 . hold sway to have a lot of influence or power:

Among people here, traditional values still hold sway.

28 . hold court to get the attention of everyone while you are talking, especially when you are trying to entertain people:

Joey would walk into the bar and hold court all night.

29 . hold your tongue spoken used to tell someone to stop talking or to not tell someone about something:

I reckon you’ve just got to learn to hold your tongue.

30 . hold all the cards to have all the advantages in a situation in which people are competing or arguing:

‘There’s not much we can do. They seem to hold all the cards,’ said Dan gloomily.

31 . hold fast (to something) to keep believing strongly in something

32 . hold a conversation to have a conversation

33 . hold the fort to be responsible for something while the person usually responsible for it is not there:

She’s holding the fort while the manager’s on holiday.

34 . hold the lead/advantage to be winning in a competition, game etc:

Celtic held the lead in the first half.

35 . there’s no holding somebody (back) spoken used to say that someone is so determined to do something that you cannot prevent them from doing it

36 . can hold your drink/liquor/alcohol etc to be able to drink a lot of alcohol without getting drunk or ill

37 . not hold water if an excuse, a statement etc does not hold water, it does not seem to be true or reasonable

38 . hold something/somebody dear formal to care about something or someone a lot:

We were facing the loss of everything we held dear.

39 . hold the road if a car holds the road well, you can drive it quickly around bends without losing control

⇨ hold a course at ↑ course 1 (8)

• • •


▪ hold to have something in your hand, hands, or arms:

Maria came in holding a letter.


Can I hold the baby?

▪ grip to hold something very tightly and not let it go:

He gripped her arm so she couldn’t walk away.


Jenny gripped the side of the boat to steady herself.

▪ clutch to hold something tightly, especially because you do not want to drop or lose it:

A businessman hurried past, clutching his briefcase.


The little girl clutched onto his hand.

▪ clasp written to hold someone or something tightly, closing your fingers or arms around them:

She was clasping a bunch of small summer flowers.


He clasped her in his arms and kissed her.

▪ get/take hold of something to take something in your hand or hands and hold it:

I took hold of the handle and pulled as hard as I could.


Quickly – try and get hold of that frog!

▪ grasp written to take hold of something firmly, especially in a determined way:

She grasped the lowest branch and pulled herself up into the tree.

▪ grab to take hold of something suddenly and often violently:

He grabbed my bag and ran off with it.


The other man grabbed hold of (=suddenly took hold of ) my arms and threatened me with a knife.

▪ seize /siːz/ written to take hold of something suddenly and often violently:

A police officer ran after him and seized the gun.

▪ hang on (to something) to hold on to something or someone tightly to support yourself:

He hung on to the rail at the back of the motorbike.


Hang on tight!

▪ keep hold of something to continue to hold something:

Greg was struggling to keep hold of the dog.


She tried to take her hand away but he kept hold of it.

hold something against somebody phrasal verb

to continue to dislike someone or not forgive them because of something bad they have done in the past:

You can’t still hold that against him, surely?

hold back phrasal verb

1 . hold somebody/something ↔ back to make someone or something stop moving forward:

Police in riot gear held back the demonstrators.

2 . hold something ↔ back to stop yourself from feeling or showing a particular emotion:

She struggled to hold back her tears.

Anger flooded through her. She couldn’t hold it back.

3 . hold somebody/something ↔ back to prevent someone or something from making progress:

They felt the British economy was being held back by excessive government controls.

4 . hold (somebody) back to be unwilling to do something, especially because you are being careful, or to make someone unwilling to do something:

In the current situation many investors are holding back.

She wanted to tell him but pride held her back.

5 . hold something ↔ back to keep something secret:

Tell me all about it – don’t hold anything back!

hold somebody/something ↔ down phrasal verb

1 . to make someone or something stay on something, and stop them from moving away or escaping:

We had to hold the tent down with rocks to stop it blowing away.

It took three strong men to hold him down.

2 . to prevent the level of something such as prices from rising:

We will aim to hold down prices.

3 . hold down a job to succeed in keeping a job for a period of time:

He’s never held down a job for longer than a few weeks.

4 . to keep people under control or limit their freedom:

The people were held down for centuries by their conquerors.

hold forth phrasal verb

to give your opinion on a subject, especially for a long time

hold forth on

The speaker was holding forth on the collapse of modern society.

hold off phrasal verb

1 . to delay doing something:

Buyers have been holding off until the price falls.

hold off (on) doing something

Hold off making your decision until Monday.

2 . hold somebody ↔ off

a) to prevent someone who is trying to attack or defeat you from succeeding:

Not even a gun could hold him off forever.

b) to prevent someone from coming towards you or succeeding in speaking to you:

There’s already a crowd of reporters outside – I’ll try to hold them off for a while.

3 . if rain or bad weather holds off, it does not start, although it looked as if it would:

The rain held off until after the game.

hold on phrasal verb

1 . spoken

a) to wait for a short time:

Hold on, I’ll just get my coat.

b) used when you have just noticed, heard, or remembered something interesting or wrong:

Hold on a minute! Isn’t that your brother’s car over there?

c) used to ask someone on the telephone to wait until the person they want to talk to is available:

Can you hold on? I’ll try to find her.

2 . to have your hands or arms tightly around something:

Hold on tight!

hold on to

Hold on to my arm.

3 . to continue doing something that is very difficult to do:

San Francisco held on to win 4–2.

hold on to somebody/something phrasal verb

to keep something rather than losing it, selling it, or giving it to someone else:

The soldiers held on to the bridge for three more days.

I think I’ll hold on to these old records for now.

hold out phrasal verb

1 . hold out something to think or say that something is possible or likely to happen, especially something good

not hold out much hope/hold out little hope

Negotiators aren’t holding out much hope of a peaceful settlement.

hold out the prospect/promise of something

alternative methods which hold out the promise of improved health

2 . if a supply of something holds out, there is still some left:

Water supplies won’t hold out much longer.

3 . to continue to successfully defend a place that is being attacked:

The rebels held out for another night but then fresh forces arrived.

4 . to try to prevent yourself from doing something that someone is trying to force you to do

hold out against

I didn’t know how much longer I could hold out against their relentless questioning.

hold out for something phrasal verb

to not accept anything less than you have asked for:

Transport workers are holding out for a 20% pay rise.

hold out on somebody phrasal verb informal

to not tell someone about something important:

She must have been holding out on him all these years.

hold something over phrasal verb

1 . [usually passive] formal to do or deal with something at a later time:

The matter was held over for further review.

⇨ ↑ holdover

2 . hold something over somebody to use something bad that you know about someone to make them do what you want:

He knows I’ve been in prison and is holding it over me.

3 . be held over especially American English if a play, film, concert etc is held over, it is shown for longer than planned because it is very popular

hold to something phrasal verb

1 . if you hold to a belief, principle, promise etc, you believe it or behave according to it:

He admitted he did not hold to the traditional view of God.

2 . hold somebody to something to make someone do what they have promised:

‘I’ll ask him tomorrow.’ ‘OK, but I’m going to hold you to that.’

3 . hold somebody to something British English to prevent your opponent in a sports game from getting more than a particular number of points:

Norway held Holland to a 2–2 draw.

hold together phrasal verb

1 . if a group or an organization holds together, or if something holds it together, it stays strong and does not separate into different parts or groups:

Against all expectations, the coalition held together well.

hold something ↔ together

In those days the Church held the community together.

2 . to remain whole and good enough to use, or to make something do this:

Incredibly, the raft held together till we reached the opposite shore.

hold something ↔ together

I wondered how the structure was held together.

hold up phrasal verb

1 . hold something ↔ up to support something and prevent it from falling down:

The roof is held up by massive stone pillars.

2 . hold somebody/something ↔ up [usually passive] to delay someone or something:

Sorry I’m late – I was held up at work.

3 . hold up something to rob or try to rob a place or person by using violence:

Two armed men held up a downtown liquor store last night.

⇨ ↑ hold-up

4 . to not become weaker:

His physical condition has held up well.

hold somebody/something up as something phrasal verb

to use someone or something as a good example or as proof of something:

The school is held up as a model for others.

This incident will be held up as proof that tougher controls are needed.

hold with something phrasal verb

not hold with something British English used to say that someone does not approve of something:

He says he doesn’t hold with all this politically correct stuff.

not hold with doing something

I don’t hold with hitting children in any circumstances.

II. hold 2 S2 W3 BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ hold , ↑ holder , ↑ holding ; verb : ↑ hold ]

[ Sense 1-9, 11: Origin: ⇨ ↑ hold 1 ]

[ Sense 10: Origin: hole ]

1 . HOLDING SOMETHING [singular] the action of holding something with your hands SYN grip

hold on

She released her tight hold on the dog.

He tightened his hold, refusing to let her go.

Make sure you keep hold of my hand when we cross the road.

I took hold of her hand and gently led her away.

Grab hold of the rope and pull yourself up.

2 . get hold of something ( also get a hold of something American English ) to find or borrow something so that you can use it:

I need to get hold of a car.

She managed to get a hold of a copy.

3 . get hold of somebody ( also get a hold of somebody American English ) to find and speak to someone about something:

I must get hold of Vanessa to see if she can babysit.

4 . CONTROL/POWER [singular] control, power, or influence over something or someone

get/keep a hold on/of something

He struggled to get a hold of his emotions.

I’ve always kept a tight hold on our finances.

I realized that the woman had a hold over my father.

5 . on hold

a) if something is on hold, it is going to be done or dealt with at a later date rather than now:

The plans are on hold until after the election.

Since having the kids, my career has been put on hold.

b) if you are on hold, you are waiting to talk to someone on the telephone:

We try not to keep people on hold for more than a couple of minutes.

The agent put me on hold while she consulted a colleague.

6 . take (a) hold to start to have a definite effect:

The fever was beginning to take hold.

7 . get hold of an idea/an impression/a story etc to learn or begin to believe something:

Where on earth did you get hold of that idea?

8 . FIGHT [countable] a particular position that you hold an opponent in, in a fight or a sport such as ↑ wrestling

9 . CLIMBING [countable] somewhere you can put your hands or feet to help you climb something:

The cliff was steep and it was difficult to find a hold.

10 . SHIP [countable] the part of a ship below the ↑ deck 1 (1) where goods are stored

11 . no holds barred when there are no rules or limits on what you are allowed to do:

It seems there are no holds barred when it comes to making a profit.

• • •


■ adjectives

▪ a tight/firm hold

Rose had a tight hold of her hand.

■ verbs

▪ tighten your hold

Maria winced as Luke tightened his hold on her fingers.

▪ loosen/relax your hold

Laughing, he loosened his hold until she could pull her arms free.

▪ release your hold (=stop holding something)

As soon as his fingers released their hold, Robyn turned and ran.

■ phrases

▪ keep hold of something (=hold something without letting go)

I had to run to keep hold of the leather strap.

▪ get/take hold of something (=start holding something)

Wallace took hold of Fred’s jacket and pulled him roughly backwards.

▪ catch/grab/seize etc hold of something (=start holding something quickly and firmly)

She grabbed hold of the letter and tore it open.

▪ have hold of something (=be holding something)

Nathan had hold of her hand again.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.