keep

To keep means to have and hold on to something — like to keep your wallet in your pocket. It also means to continue; if you keep hula hooping you’ll break the world record!

Keep has many senses in English, and shows up in a lot of our common expressions, like “keep out!" and "keep your shirt on!" The word generally has the senses of hold onto, maintain, stay, continue, or protect from harm. Food that will not spoil yet will keep. You can keep a secret, keep a diary, or keep your little sister safe. You can also keep a ritual or religious custom by practicing it –- like to keep kosher. Whatever you do, “just keep going.”

PRIMARY MEANINGS OF: keep

1
vn
continue a certain state, condition, or activity
the main tower within the walls of a medieval castle or fortress
2
v
retain rights to
3
vn
look after; be the keeper of; have charge of
the financial means whereby one lives
4
v
stick to correctly or closely
FULL DEFINITIONS OF: keep
1

v continue a certain state, condition, or activity

Keep on working!”
Keep smiling”
Synonyms:
continue, go along, go on, proceed
bear on, carry on, continue, preserve, uphold
keep or maintain in unaltered condition; cause to remain or last
continue
continue after an interruption
Antonyms:
discontinue
come to or be at an end
Types:
hold
remain in a certain state, position, or condition
keep going, run on
continue uninterrupted
ride
continue undisturbed and without interference
Type of:
act, move
perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

v fail to spoil or rot

“These potatoes keep for a long time”
Synonyms:
stay fresh
preserve
prevent (food) from rotting
Type of:
remain, rest, stay
stay the same; remain in a certain state

v keep in a certain state, position, or activity; e.g., "keep clean"

“The students keep me on my toes”
Synonyms:
hold, maintain
Types:
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pressurise, pressurize
maintain a certain pressure
bear on, carry on, continue, preserve, uphold
keep or maintain in unaltered condition; cause to remain or last
hold over
keep in a position or state from an earlier period of time
conserve
keep constant through physical or chemical reactions or evolutionary change
preserve
keep undisturbed for personal or private use for hunting, shooting, or fishing
distance
keep at a distance
housekeep
maintain a household; take care of all business related to a household
re-start, restart, resume
take up or begin anew
hang in, hang on, hold on, persevere, persist
be persistent, refuse to stop
perpetuate
cause to continue or prevail
keep up, prolong, sustain
lengthen or extend in duration or space
mummify
preserve while making lifeless

v prevent (food) from rotting

keep potatoes fresh”
Synonyms:
preserve
stay fresh
fail to spoil or rot
Types:
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freeze-dry
preserve by rapid freezing and subsequently drying in a vacuum
conserve
preserve with sugar
dehydrate, desiccate
preserve by removing all water and liquids from
pickle
preserve in a pickling liquid
salt
preserve with salt
can, put up, tin
preserve in a can or tin
refrigerate
preserve by chilling
cure
prepare by drying, salting, or chemical processing in order to preserve
corn
preserve with salt
lyophilise, lyophilize
to dry (blood, serum, or tissue) by freezing in a high vacuum
dun
cure by salting
Type of:
cook, fix, make, prepare, ready
prepare for eating by applying heat

v keep under control; keep in check

Keep your temper”
keep your cool”
Synonyms:
hold back, keep back, restrain
Types:
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hold
keep from exhaling or expelling
confine
prevent from leaving or from being removed
bottle up, inhibit, suppress
control and refrain from showing; of emotions, desires, impulses, or behavior
check, contain, control, curb, hold, hold in, moderate
lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits
bound, confine, limit, restrain, restrict, throttle, trammel
place limits on (extent or access)
conquer, curb, inhibit, stamp down, subdue, suppress
to put down by force or authority
damp
restrain or discourage
cabin
confine to a small space, such as a cabin
closet
confine to a small space, as for intensive work
coop in, coop up
confine in or as if in a coop
lock, lock away, lock in, lock up, put away, shut away, shut up
place in a place where something cannot be removed or someone cannot escape
lock in, seal in
close with or as if with a tight seal
crucify, mortify, subdue
hold within limits and control
abnegate, deny
deny oneself (something); restrain, especially from indulging in some pleasure
hold back, keep back, restrain
keep under control; keep in check
quench
electronics: suppress (sparking) when the current is cut off in an inductive circuit, or suppress (an oscillation or discharge) in a component or device
choke
check or slow down the action or effect of
restrict
place under restrictions; limit access to
train
cause to grow in a certain way by tying and pruning it
catch
check oneself during an action
bate
moderate or restrain; lessen the force of
thermostat
control the temperature with a thermostat
counteract, countercheck
oppose or check by a counteraction
Type of:
bottle up, inhibit, suppress
control and refrain from showing; of emotions, desires, impulses, or behavior

v allow to remain in a place or position or maintain a property or feature

“The family's fortune waned and they could not keep their household staff”
“Our grant has run out and we cannot keep you on”
“We kept the work going as long as we could”
Synonyms:
continue, keep on, retain
continue, persist in
do something repeatedly and showing no intention to stop
Type of:
keep up, prolong, sustain
lengthen or extend in duration or space

v stop (someone or something) from doing something or being in a certain state

“His snoring kept me from falling asleep”
Keep the child from eating the marbles”
Synonyms:
prevent
Antonyms:
allow, let, permit
make it possible through a specific action or lack of action for something to happen
Types:
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defend
be on the defensive; act against an attack
exclude, keep out, shut, shut out
prevent from entering; shut out
hold
keep from departing
keep away
prevent from coming close
blank
keep the opposing (baseball) team from winning
hinder, impede
be a hindrance or obstacle to
rain out, wash out
prevent or interrupt due to rain
curse, excommunicate, unchurch
exclude from a church or a religious community
bulwark
defend with a bulwark
protect
shield from danger, injury, destruction, or damage
ward off
avert, turn away, or repel
arrest, check, contain, hold back, stop, turn back
hold back, as of a danger or an enemy; check the expansion or influence of
block, close up, impede, jam, obstruct, obturate, occlude
block passage through
lock out
prevent employees from working during a strike
inhibit
limit, block, or decrease the action or function of
interfere
come between so as to be hindrance or obstacle
set back
slow down the progress of; hinder
hobble
hamper the action or progress of
stunt
check the growth or development of
ostracise, ostracize
avoid speaking to or dealing with

v hold and prevent from leaving

“The student was kept after school”
Synonyms
prevent
stop (someone or something) from doing something or being in a certain state
Type of:
confine, detain
deprive of freedom; take into confinement

n the main tower within the walls of a medieval castle or fortress

Synonyms:
donjon, dungeon
Examples:
Black Hole of Calcutta
a dungeon (20 feet square) in a fort in Calcutta where as many as 146 English prisoners were held overnight by Siraj-ud-daula; the next morning only 23 were still alive
Type of:
fastness, stronghold
a strongly fortified defensive structure

n a cell in a jail or prison

Synonyms:
hold
Type of:
cell, jail cell, prison cell
a room where a prisoner is kept
2

v retain rights to

keep my job for me while I give birth”
keep my seat, please”
keep open the possibility of a merger”
Synonyms:
hold open, keep open, save
hold on
retain possession of
Type of:
book, hold, reserve
arrange for and reserve (something for someone else) in advance

v retain possession of

“Can I keep my old stuffed animals?”
“She kept her maiden name after she married”
Synonyms:
hold on
hold open, keep open, save
retain rights to
Antonyms:
lose
fail to keep or to maintain; cease to have, either physically or in an abstract sense
Types:
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carry over, hold over
hold over goods to be sold for the next season
deny, refuse
refuse to let have
deduct, recoup, withhold
retain and refrain from disbursing; of payments
preserve, save
to keep up and reserve for personal or special use
hive away, lay in, put in, salt away, stack away, stash away, store
keep or lay aside for future use
store
find a place for and put away for storage
hold, hold back, keep back, retain
secure and keep for possible future use or application
harbor, harbour
keep in one's possession; of animals
enter, put down, record
make a record of; set down in permanent form
garner
store grain
bin
store in bins
keep back, withhold
hold back; refuse to hand over or share
dock
deduct from someone's wages
computerise, computerize
store in a computer
conserve, economise, economize, husband
use cautiously and frugally
victual
lay in provisions
mothball
put into long-term storage
reposit
put (something) in a place for storage
wharf
store on a wharf
tank
store in a tank by causing (something) to flow into it
loft
store in a loft
warehouse
store in a warehouse
garage
keep or store in a garage
bottle
store (liquids or gases) in bottles
ensile
store in a silo
hold down
keep
accumulate, amass, collect, compile, hoard, pile up, roll up
get or gather together
hive
store, like bees
Type of:
have, have got, hold
have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense

v have as a supply

“I always keep batteries in the freezer”
keep food for a week in the pantry”
“She keeps a sixpack and a week's worth of supplies in the refrigerator”
Type of:
have, have got, hold
have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense

v store or keep customarily

“Where do you keep your gardening tools?”
Type of:
store
find a place for and put away for storage

v maintain for use and service

“I keep a car in the countryside”
“She keeps an apartment in Paris for her shopping trips”
Synonyms:
maintain
Type of:
have, have got, hold
have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense
3

v look after; be the keeper of; have charge of

“He keeps the shop when I am gone”
Synonyms
preserve
maintain in safety from injury, harm, or danger
Types:
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conserve, keep up, maintain, preserve
keep in safety and protect from harm, decay, loss, or destruction
embalm
preserve a dead body
plastinate
preserve (tissue) with plastics, as for teaching and research purposes
hold the line
hold the line on prices; keep the price of something constant
Type of:
have, have got, hold
have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense

v raise

“She keeps a few chickens in the yard”
“he keeps bees”
Types:
herd
keep, move, or drive animals
wrangle
herd and care for
Type of:
farm, grow, produce, raise
cultivate by growing, often involving improvements by means of agricultural techniques

v supply with necessities and support

“There's little to earn and many to keep
Synonyms:
maintain, sustain
Types:
patronage
support by being a patron of
reseed
maintain by seeding without human intervention
carry
keep up with financial support
Type of:
have, have got, hold
have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense

v supply with room and board

“He is keeping three women in the guest cottage”
keep boarders”
Type of:
accommodate, lodge
provide housing for

v maintain in safety from injury, harm, or danger

“May God keep you”
Synonyms:
preserve
Type of:
protect
shield from danger, injury, destruction, or damage

n the financial means whereby one lives

“each child was expected to pay for their keep
Synonyms:
bread and butter, livelihood, living, support, sustenance
Types:
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amenities, comforts, conveniences, creature comforts
things that make you comfortable and at ease
maintenance
means of maintenance of a family or group
meal ticket
a source of income or livelihood
subsistence
minimal (or marginal) resources for subsisting
Type of:
resource
available source of wealth; a new or reserve supply that can be drawn upon when needed
4

v stick to correctly or closely

“The pianist kept time with the metronome”
keep count”
“I cannot keep track of all my employees”
Synonyms:
maintain, observe

v conform one's action or practice to

keep appointments”
“she never keeps her promises”
“We kept to the original conditions of the contract”
Synonyms:
observe
Antonyms:
breach, break, go against, infract, offend, transgress, violate
act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises
Types:
make good
act as promised

v behave as expected during of holidays or rites

Keep the commandments”
Synonyms:
celebrate, observe
Types:
commemorate, mark
mark by some ceremony or observation
mourn
observe the customs of mourning after the death of a loved one
solemnise, solemnize
observe or perform with dignity or gravity

v maintain by writing regular records

keep a diary”
keep notes”
Synonyms:
maintain
Type of:
enter, put down, record
make a record of; set down in permanent form
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