Meaning of KEEP in English


I. ˈkēp verb

( kept ˈkept ; kept ; keeping ; keeps )

Etymology: Middle English kepen to observe, heed, seek, seize, keep, from Old English cēpan to observe, heed, seek, seize; akin to Old English capian to look, Old Saxon kapōn, Old High German chapfēn to look, Old Norse kōpa to stare, and perhaps to Russian zabota care, worry

transitive verb


a. : to observe or fulfill (something prescribed or obligatory) : adhere to or not swerve from or violate (as a faith) : practice or perform as a duty : not neglect : be faithful to (as a promise): as

(1) : to notice with due, approved, or customary actions and feelings : act fittingly in relation to by refraining from anything inappropriate or unsuitable

keeping a Sabbath day by ceasing from all work — H.G.Cowan

(2) : to conform to in habits or conduct (as by regular attendance to or the performance of appropriate duties) or adjust one's schedule of activities to include

keep chapel

keep early hours

(3) : to act (as in playing an instrument, singing, marching) in accord with (as a preestablished time, tempo, or rhythm)

asked the musicians to keep time with the metronome

could not keep the tricky rhythm of the Latin-American dance

b. : to reside at a British university long enough to complete the requirements of (a term) ; especially : to eat a sufficient number of dinners in hall at the Inns of Court to make (a term) count for the purpose of being called to the bar

2. : preserve , maintain : as

a. : to watch over and defend especially from danger, harm, or loss

prayed God to keep and help his family

anxious to keep his son from illness and accident

his sanguine nature kept him from worry


(1) : to have the care of : be responsible for : tend

the shepherd boy kept sheep on the moors at night

kept a garden for his parents

was paid to keep the furnace

(2) : to support by providing with a home, food, clothing, or other requisites of existence

the foster parents kept the child for a year until his real parents could be found

(3) : to maintain in a good, fitting, or orderly condition

objected to keeping the house

a meticulously kept orchard

(4) : to maintain habitually by undertaking the expense of

what sort of table do they keep — Jane Austen

c. : to continue to maintain : not cease from or intermit

keep silence

keep guard over the child


(1) : to cause to remain in a given place, situation, or condition : maintain unchanged : hold or preserve in a particular state

keep valuables under lock and key

kept all perishable food cold

keep a person waiting

— often used with a following prepositional phrase or adverb indicating place or direction

kept the boys away from the house

kept the top of the box down with weights

kept the dog in the house

kept the children in

kept the cat out

keep the birds off the antenna

(2) : to preserve (food) in an unspoiled condition

keep meat by packing it in ice

keep potatoes in storage in a cool cellar


(1) : to have or retain in one's service or in an established position or relationship

keep a maid and a butler

keeps two assistants

— often used with on

kept the cook on until she could find a new employer

(2) : to possess (as a domestic animal) usually for certain services or advantages

keeps a horse

keeps several head of cattle

(3) : to maintain in exchange for sexual favors

never married but kept a mistress for several years

found the woman was keeping a man several years her junior

(4) : to control totally the policy, principles, and ideas of (as a newspaper) by one's money or economic power

a kept press


(1) : to maintain a record in (as of daily occurrences or transactions)

keep a journal

keep books for a business firm

(2) : to enter (as an account or record) in a book

g. : to have customarily in stock for sale

bought the best sherry the store kept


a. : to restrain from departure or removal : not let go of : hold , detain

keep him as a prisoner for a week

kept the children after school for disobedience

nothing to keep me in the hot city

b. : to hold back : restrain , prevent

tried to keep him from going out at night

nothing kept him from going through with it

c. : save , reserve , store

asked the grocer to keep a good cut of beef for her each week

kept the hardest questions until the end of the examination

d. : to refrain from communicating, revealing, or betraying : not divulge

keep a secret

keep his counsel


a. : to retain or continue to have in one's possession or power especially by conscious or purposive policy

were able to conquer the island but were unable to keep it

found the money and figured he could keep it

the court decided the couple could keep the child

b. : withhold

kept most of his inheritance from him

kept the sad news from the parents

c. : to have in control : not lose

keep one's temper

5. : to keep to

ill and keeps her room — Jane Austen

with a cold that has left her weak, so that she has kept the house for over a fortnight — O.W.Holmes †1935


a. : to continue in (as a course) : not deviate from

keep the path rather than strike off through the woods

keep the center of the road

b. : to stay or remain on or in usually against opposition

keep your seat

keep the saddle despite the bucking of the horse

keep the field under fire

kept his ground even though attacked again and again


a. : conduct , manage

keep a meeting

: carry on

keep a business

the chairman was not there to keep the yearly assembly

kept a small tearoom

b. archaic : to keep up

c. : to make out or manage in respect to the welfare of (oneself)

how have you been keeping yourself

8. : to associate with (company)

concerned about the company she was keeping

9. dialect England : to frighten or scare away (birds)

intransitive verb

1. now Britain : live , lodge

could not find where the man kept in town


a. : to maintain a course, direction, or progress : persevere in going

keep along the main route for 10 miles

kept to the south all day

b. : to continue usually without interruption a particular action

the fire kept burning all night

keep smiling

— often used with on

kept on talking until he was told to stop

c. : to persist resolutely or stubbornly in a practice or a course of action often in spite of opposition or warning : continue firmly or obstinately

keeps asking us to go swimming

— often used with on

kept on drinking after the doctor told him to stop


a. : to stay or remain (as in a particular place or condition)

keep in the house if it rains

the wind kept to the east

keep in a happy frame of mind

keep out of the way

keep in touch with friends

kept warm with blankets and hot soup

kept clean by washing daily

b. : to be in regard to health

how are you keeping

c. : to keep up

was unable to keep with the older boys on the hike

it follows the herring schools and sometimes keeps with them for days — F.G.Kay

4. : abstain , refrain

couldn't keep from talking


a. : to remain in good condition : not go bad or deteriorate

the food will keep for a long time under refrigeration

knowledge does not keep any better than fish — A.N.Whitehead

b. : to remain undivulged

knew the secret would keep if he told nobody

c. : to call for no immediate action

the matter will keep until morning when we can see a lawyer

6. : to be or remain in session

school keeps five days a week

7. : to keep wicket


keep , keep ( back ), keep ( out ), retain , detain , withhold , reserve , hold , and hold ( back ) can mean, in common, not to relinquish one's possession, custody, or control. keep is the most general term, carrying the common meaning

keep one's car for another year

keep one's balance

keep one's right to vote

keep ( back ) is interchangeable with any of the remaining terms

keep back a part of an employee's pay

keep back a person who wants to rush out into a storm

keep back some tickets for a friend

keep ( out ) applies to the keeping of some portion of a whole

keep out a part of a week's pay for emergencies

retain implies continued keeping especially against a threatened taking or loss

retain one's possessions even in war

retain one's sanity

retain control of a company

detain implies a delay in letting go from one's control

detain a man suspected of a crime

detain a ship in quarantine

withhold implies a delay in letting go or a refusal to give or let go

withhold information

withhold payments on a house

withhold one's help

reserve implies either a keeping in store or withholding from present use especially for some future or special need or purpose

reserve a certain percentage for emergencies

reserve a space in a house for a playroom

reserve seats at an opera

hold and hold ( back ) are often used in place of withhold or keep ( back ) and sometimes in place of detain or reserve when restraint in letting go is implied

hold a portion of a week's pay as a fine

hold a person suspected of a crime

hold back some tickets that are on sale as a favor to a friend

hold one's condemnation until a later date

hold back one's judgment until all the evidence has been considered


observe , celebrate , solemnize , commemorate : keep , along with others in this set, can mean the noticing or honoring of a day or occasion fittingly or duly. keep is rather mild in its implications and may suggest merely a customary or wonted notice without anything untoward or inappropriate; it implies opposition to break

his build was all compact, for force, well-knit … he kept no Lent to make him meager — John Masefield

observe may indicate a heightened solemnity, attention to correct details, and a proper attitude

knowing that the usual ritual would have to be observed — T.B.Costain

New Hampshire observes one holiday not possessed by any other state — American Guide Series: New Hampshire

In today's English and especially in nonreligious contexts celebrate is likely to suggest notice of an occasion by festivity or indulgence

celebrate New Year's Eve

celebrating a friend's good fortune

many parties celebrating a football victory

solemnize is likely to carry a contrasting suggestion, that of grave dignity or splendid ceremony

mysterious rites were solemnized, and … of those terrific idols some received such dismal service — William Wordsworth

this blessed day ever … shall be kept festival: to solemnize this day the glorious sun stays in his course — Shakespeare

commemorate stresses the idea of remembrance and suggests observance or ceremony, or a symbol or monument designed to ensure against forgetfulness and oblivion

the first time it had ever been rung to commemorate the death of a monarch — New Yorker

their six children all died in early youth, and the Bradleys determined to commemorate them by founding an educational institution — Marie A. Kasten

- keep an eye on

- keep at

- keep bach

- keep cases

- keep company

- keep (one) company

- keep cut

- keep face

- keep faith

- keep hands off

- keep house

- keep mind

- keep one's end up

- keep one's feet

- keep one's hand in

- keep pace

- keep standing

- keep step

- keep the field

- keep the peace

- keep to

- keep to oneself

- keep wicket

II. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English kep, keep, from kepen to keep — more at keep

1. archaic : heed , notice — usually used in the phrases give keep, take keep

2. : the act of keeping or the state of being kept: as

a. archaic : custody , guard , charge

b. : maintenance

3. : one that keeps or protects: as

a. : stronghold , fortress , castle ; specifically : the strongest and securest part of a medieval castle often used as a place of residence especially during a siege

b. : keeper

has been made the keep of an anticritical defensive system — F.R.Leavis

c. : prison , jail

d. : a cap or other mechanical device for retaining anything in place ; specifically : a light iron casting resting on the hanger at the bottom of a locomotive axle box to keep the lubricating pad in position


a. : the means or provisions by which one is kept

the horse was hardly worth its keep

b. Britain : pasture for grazing or the grass in such pasture

c. : a conditioning tonic or regimen for game cocks

5. keeps plural but singular in construction : a game of marbles played for keeps

6. : a football play in which the quarterback fakes a pass but keeps the ball and runs with it

Synonyms: see living

- for keeps

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.