If you grasp something in your hands, you hold it. Be careful when you hold the puppy — he's so wriggly, and you wouldn't want to drop him!

Hold also means to keep from exhaling. If you forget to hold your breath when you go underwater, you're sure to come up sputtering. The noun hold means the cargo area on a ship or airplane. When you check your bag, it's stored in the hold of the plane during the flight. If you packed your book and your snacks in it, it might make more sense to hold onto it instead.

Primary Meanings of hold

have or hold in one's hands or grip
the act of grasping
keep in a certain state, position, or activity; e.g., "keep clean"
a state of being confined (usually for a short time)
maintain (a theory, thoughts, or feelings)
understanding of the nature or meaning or quality or magnitude of something
Full Definitions of hold

v have or hold in one's hands or grip

Hold this bowl for a moment, please”
“A crazy idea took hold of him”
take hold
let go, let go of, release, relinquish
release, as from one's grip
show 11 types...
hide 11 types...
grasp, hold on
hold firmly
cling to, clutch, hold close, hold tight
hold firmly, usually with one's hands
hold gently and carefully
hold a boxing opponent with one or both arms so as to prevent punches
interlace, interlock, lock
hold in a locking position
hold or catch as if in a trap
hold or place in or as if in a cradle
latch on
take hold of or attach to
cling, hang
hold on tightly or tenaciously
hold firmly and tightly
cuddle, draw close, nest, nestle, nuzzle, snuggle
move or arrange oneself in a comfortable and cozy position

v cover as for protection against noise or smell

“She held her ears when the jackhammer started to operate”
hold one's nose”
Type of:
provide with a covering or cause to be covered

v aim, point, or direct

Hold the fire extinguisher directly on the flames”
Type of:
aim, direct, take, take aim, train
point or cause to go (blows, weapons, or objects such as photographic equipment) towards

v be the physical support of; carry the weight of

“The beam holds up the roof”
“What's holding that mirror?”
hold up, support, sustain
show 13 types...
hide 13 types...
provide with a scaffold for support
support, secure, or raise with a block
bear or be able to bear the weight, pressure,or responsibility of
support on chocks
buoy, buoy up
keep afloat
support on poles
support with brackets
support from beneath
prop, prop up, shore, shore up
support by placing against something solid or rigid
support structurally
support by bracing
prop up with a pillow or bolster
brace (an archer's bow) by pressing the foot against the center

v support or hold in a certain manner

“She holds her head high”
bear, carry
show 11 types...
hide 11 types...
hold or carry in a sling
carry oneself, often habitually, with head, shoulders, and upper back bent forward
support on the back and shoulders
balance, poise
hold or carry in equilibrium
acquit, bear, behave, carry, comport, conduct, deport
behave in a certain manner
hold with difficulty and balance insecurely
be flustered; behave in a confused manner
assert, put forward
insist on having one's opinions and rights recognized
behave in a certain way towards others
walk around
behave in a certain manner or have certain properties
pose, posture
behave affectedly or unnaturally in order to impress others

v contain or hold; have within

“The canteen holds fresh water”
bear, carry, contain
contain, take
be capable of holding or containing
show 7 types...
hide 7 types...
hold back within
confine, enclose, hold in
close in; "darkness confined him"
border, bound
form the boundary of; be contiguous to
enclose with banks, as for support or protection
rail, rail in
enclose with rails
box in, box up
enclose or confine as if in a box
enclose in a frame, as of a picture
Type of:
have as a part; be made up out of

v have room for; hold without crowding

“The auditorium can't hold more than 500 people”
accommodate, admit
contain, take
be capable of holding or containing
be able to accommodate for sleeping
contain or cover
be able to seat

v be capable of holding or containing

“The flask holds one gallon”
contain, take
bear, carry, contain
contain or hold; have within
accommodate, admit
have room for; hold without crowding
Type of:
have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)

v have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense

“She holds a Master's degree from Harvard”
have, have got
feature, have
have as a feature
show 22 types...
hide 22 types...
keep, maintain, sustain
supply with necessities and support
hold on, keep
retain possession of
look after; be the keeper of; have charge of
keep, maintain
maintain for use and service
have as a supply
monopolise, monopolize
have or exploit a monopoly of
exert, maintain, wield
have and exercise
carry, stock, stockpile
have on hand
have rightfully; of rights, titles, and offices
have or possess something abstract
support by being a patron of
maintain by seeding without human intervention
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
conserve, keep up, maintain, preserve
keep in safety and protect from harm, decay, loss, or destruction
hive away, lay in, put in, salt away, stack away, stash away, store
keep or lay aside for future use
find a place for and put away for storage
hold back, keep back, retain
secure and keep for possible future use or application
harbor, harbour
keep in one's possession; of animals
keep up with financial support

v have rightfully; of rights, titles, and offices

“He held the governorship for almost a decade”
Type of:
have, have got
have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense

v have as a major characteristic

“The novel holds many surprises”
“The book holds in store much valuable advise”
Type of:
have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)

v hold the attention of

“The soprano held the audience”
“This story held our interest”
“She can hold an audience spellbound”
Type of:
becharm, beguile, bewitch, captivate, capture, catch, charm, enamor, enamour, enchant, entrance, fascinate, trance
attract; cause to be enamored

v drink alcohol without showing ill effects

“He can hold his liquor”
Type of:
booze, drink, fuddle
consume alcohol

n the act of grasping

“she kept a firm hold on the railing”
clasp, clench, clutch, clutches, grasp, grip
show 12 types...
hide 12 types...
choke hold, chokehold
a restraining hold; someone loops the arm around the neck of another person in a tight grip, usually from behind
embrace, embracement, embracing
the act of clasping another person in the arms (as in greeting or affection)
wrestling hold
a hold used in the sport of wrestling
cuddle, nestle, snuggle
a close and affectionate (and often prolonged) embrace
clinch, hug, squeeze
a tight or amorous embrace
bear hug
a wrestling hold with arms locked tightly around the opponent
any of several wrestling holds in which an arm is passed under the opponent's arm from behind and the hand exerts pressure on the back of the neck
Japanese stranglehold
a wrestling hold in which the opponent's arms are crossed in front of his own neck to exert pressure on his windpipe
any wrestling hold in which some part of the opponent's body is twisted or pressured
scissor grip, scissor hold, scissors, scissors grip, scissors hold
a wrestling hold in which you wrap your legs around the opponents body or head and put your feet together and squeeze
a wrestling hold in which the arms are pressed against the opponent's windpipe
a wrestling hold in which the toe is held and the leg is twisted against the joints
Type of:
grasping, prehension, seizing, taking hold
the act of gripping something firmly with the hands (or the tentacles)

n the space in a ship or aircraft for storing cargo

cargo area, cargo deck, cargo hold, storage area
Type of:
a structure consisting of an area that has been enclosed for some purpose

n a stronghold

Type of:
fastness, stronghold
a strongly fortified defensive structure

n a cell in a jail or prison

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

n the appendage to an object that is designed to be held in order to use or move it

grip, handgrip, handle
show 21 types...
hide 21 types...
ax handle, axe handle
the handle of an ax
broom handle, broomstick
the handle of a broom
the stock or handle of a whip
haft, helve
the handle of a weapon or tool
the handle of a sword or dagger
hoe handle
the handle of a hoe
a round handle
mop handle
the handle of a mop
the handle of a pan
pommel, saddlebow
handgrip formed by the raised front part of a saddle
a handgrip that a gymnast uses when performing exercises on a pommel horse
rake handle
the handle of a rake
the handle end of some implements or tools
gunstock, stock
the handle of a handgun or the butt end of a rifle or shotgun or part of the support of a machine gun or artillery gun
basket hilt
a hilt with a basket-shaped guard for the hand
bitstock, brace
a carpenter's tool having a crank handle for turning and a socket to hold a bit for boring
butt, butt end
thick end of the handle
doorhandle, doorknob
a knob used to release the catch when opening a door (often called `doorhandle' in Great Britain)
horn, saddle horn
a high pommel of a Western saddle (usually metal covered with leather)
pistol grip
a handle (as of a gun or saw) shaped like the butt of a pistol
(music) a knob on an organ that is pulled to change the sound quality from the organ pipes
Type of:
a part that is joined to something larger

n power by which something or someone is affected or dominated

“he has a hold over them”
Type of:
power to direct or determine

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

hold in place”
“She always held herself as a lady”
keep, maintain
show 12 types...
hide 12 types...
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
keep constant through physical or chemical reactions or evolutionary change
keep undisturbed for personal or private use for hunting, shooting, or fishing
keep at a distance
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
cause to continue or prevail
keep up, prolong, sustain
lengthen or extend in duration or space
preserve while making lifeless

v secure and keep for possible future use or application

hold back, keep back, retain
hold down
Type of:
hold on, keep
retain possession of

v arrange for and reserve (something for someone else) in advance

“please hold a table at Maxim's”
book, reserve
obtain or arrange (for oneself) in advance
hold open, keep, keep open, save
retain rights to
Type of:
bespeak, call for, quest, request
express the need or desire for; ask for

v organize or be responsible for

hold a reception”
give, have, make, throw
Type of:
be in charge of

v take and maintain control over, often by violent means

“The dissatisfied students held the President's office for almost a week”
defend, guard
protect against a challenge or attack
Type of:
command, control
exercise authoritative control or power over

v protect against a challenge or attack

Hold that position behind the trees!”
Hold the bridge against the enemy's attacks”
defend, guard
Type of:
shield from danger, injury, destruction, or damage

v lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits

hold your tongue”
hold your temper”
check, contain, control, curb, hold in, moderate
show 37 types...
hide 37 types...
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
restrain or discourage
crucify, mortify, subdue
hold within limits and control
abnegate, deny
deny oneself (something); restrain, especially from indulging in some pleasure
place under restrictions; limit access to
cause to grow in a certain way by tying and pruning it
check oneself during an action
moderate or restrain; lessen the force of
control the temperature with a thermostat
counteract, countercheck
oppose or check by a counteraction
blink, blink away, wink
force to go away by blinking
reduce, tighten
narrow or limit
limit or restrict to
restrict (school boys') movement to the dormitory or campus as a means of punishment
draw a line, draw the line
reasonably object (to) or set a limit (on)
mark off, mark out
set boundaries to and delimit
harness, rein, rule
keep in check
baffle, regulate
check the emission of (sound)
cramp, halter, hamper, strangle
prevent the progress or free movement of
dampen, stifle
smother or suppress
choke back, choke down, choke off
constrain, stiffen, tighten, tighten up
clamp down, crack down
repress or suppress (something regarded as undesirable)
hush, hush up, quieten, shut up, silence, still
cause to be quiet or not talk
constrict, inhibit
limit the range or extent of
get rid of, silence, or suppress
keep from expression, for example by threats or pressure
quell, quench, squelch
suppress or crush completely
constrain, cumber, encumber, restrain
hold back
muffle, repress, smother, stifle, strangle
conceal or hide
practice self-denial of one's body and appetites
declare unavailable, as for security reasons
declare as sacred and forbidden
train on a trellis, as of a vine
scant, skimp
limit in quality or quantity
localise, localize
restrict something to a particular area
Type of:
hold back, keep, keep back, restrain
keep under control; keep in check

v keep from exhaling or expelling

hold your breath”
Type of:
hold back, keep, keep back, restrain
keep under control; keep in check

v keep from departing

Hold the taxi”
Hold the horse”
Type of:
keep, prevent
stop (someone or something) from doing something or being in a certain state

v to close within bounds, limit or hold back from movement

“This holds the local until the express passengers change trains”
“About a dozen animals were held inside the stockade”
“The illegal immigrants were held at a detention center”
“The terrorists held the journalists for ransom”
confine, restrain
show 13 types...
hide 13 types...
bind, tie down, tie up, truss
secure with or as if with ropes
fetter, shackle
restrain with fetters
restrain or bind with chains
pinion, shackle
bind the arms of
impound, pound
place or shut up in a pound
pound, pound up
shut up or confine in any enclosure or within any bounds or limits
fold, pen up
confine in a fold, like sheep
confine or restrict to the ground
chain up
tie up with chains
faggot, faggot up, fagot
bind or tie up in or as if in a faggot
faggot, fagot
fasten together rods of iron in order to heat or weld them
tie together somebody's limbs
cuff, handcuff, manacle
confine or restrain with or as if with manacles or handcuffs
Type of:
disable, disenable, incapacitate
make unable to perform a certain action

v bind by an obligation; cause to be indebted

“He's held by a contract”
“I'll hold you by your promise”
bind, obligate, oblige
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
bind or secure by a pledge
bind by a contract; especially for a training period
indent, indenture
bind by or as if by indentures, as of an apprentice or servant
tie down
restrain from independence by an obligation
Type of:
have or establish a relationship to

v stop dealing with

hold all calls to the President's office while he is in a meeting”
Type of:
defer, hold over, postpone, prorogue, put off, put over, remit, set back, shelve, table
hold back to a later time

v cause to stop

arrest, halt
Type of:
cause to stop

v remain in a certain state, position, or condition

“The weather held
“They held on the road and kept marching”
Type of:
continue, go along, go on, keep, proceed
continue a certain state, condition, or activity

v be valid, applicable, or true

“This theory still holds
obtain, prevail
Type of:
be, exist
have an existence, be extant

v be pertinent or relevant or applicable

“This theory holds for all irrational numbers”
apply, go for
apply, lend oneself
be applicable to; as to an analysis
Type of:
bear on, come to, concern, have-to doe with, pertain, refer, relate, touch, touch on
be relevant to

v resist or confront with resistance

“The bridge held
defy, hold up, withstand
brave, brave out, endure, weather
face and withstand with courage
Type of:
hold out, resist, stand firm, withstand
stand up or offer resistance to somebody or something

n a state of being confined (usually for a short time)

“the prisoner is on hold
custody, detainment, detention
Type of:
the state of being confined

n time during which some action is awaited

“he ordered a hold in the action”
delay, postponement, time lag, wait
a mutually agreed delay in the date set for the completion of a job or payment of a debt
a legally authorized postponement before some obligation must be discharged
the extent to which something is delayed or held back
Type of:
break, intermission, interruption, pause, suspension
a time interval during which there is a temporary cessation of something

v maintain (a theory, thoughts, or feelings)

entertain, harbor, harbour, nurse
Type of:
experience, feel
undergo an emotional sensation or be in a particular state of mind

v assert or affirm

“Rousseau's philosophy holds that people are inherently good”
deem, take for, view as
keep in mind or convey as a conviction or view
Type of:
affirm, assert, aver, avow, swan, swear, verify
declare or affirm solemnly and formally as true

v keep in mind or convey as a conviction or view

hold these truths to be self-evident”
“I hold him personally responsible”
deem, take for, view as
Type of:
consider, reckon, regard, see, view
deem to be

v declare to be

“judge held that the defendant was innocent”
adjudge, declare
show 31 types...
hide 31 types...
acknowledge, admit
declare to be true or admit the existence or reality or truth of
declare to be obsolete
bastardise, bastardize
declare a child to be illegitimate
declare legally insane
declare in the capacity of an umpire or referee
declare (a dead person) to be blessed; the first step of achieving sainthood
canonise, canonize, saint
declare (a dead person) to be a saint
judge, label, pronounce
pronounce judgment on
cancel, strike down
declare null and void; make ineffective
formalise, formalize
make formal or official
ritualise, ritualize
make or evolve into a ritual
acknowledge a new land owner as one's landlord
write off
concede the loss or worthlessness of something or somebody
annul, countermand, lift, overturn, repeal, rescind, reverse, revoke, vacate
cancel officially
make no bones about
acknowledge freely and openly
admit as valid
concede, confess, profess
admit (to a wrongdoing)
confess to God in the presence of a priest, as in the Catholic faith
confess, fink, squeal
confess to a punishable or reprehensible deed, usually under pressure
avouch, avow
admit openly and bluntly; make no bones about
acquit, assoil, clear, discharge, exculpate, exonerate
pronounce not guilty of criminal charges
find or declare guilty
advertise in strongly positive terms
find, rule
decide on and make a declaration about
pronounce fit or able
declare unfit
release from (claims, debts, or taxes)
intonate, intone
speak carefully, as with rising and falling pitch or in a particular tone
write off
cancel (a debt)
annul, avoid, invalidate, nullify, quash, void
declare invalid
make unavailable; bar from sale or distribution
Type of:
evaluate, judge, pass judgment
form a critical opinion of

v be in accord; be in agreement

“I hold with those who say life is sacred”
agree, concord, concur
achieve harmony of opinion, feeling, or purpose
differ, disagree, dissent, take issue
be of different opinions
show 14 types...
hide 14 types...
end a legal dispute by arriving at a settlement
conciliate, make up, patch up, reconcile, settle
come to terms
see eye to eye
be in agreement
concede, grant, yield
be willing to concede
subscribe, support
adopt as a belief
conclude, resolve
reach a conclusion after a discussion or deliberation
arrange, fix up
make arrangements for
determine, settle, square off, square up
settle conclusively; come to terms
appease, propitiate
make peace with
stop blaming or grant forgiveness
firm up
arrange firmly
make peace
end hostilities
arrange by concord or agreement
dispose of; make a financial settlement

v remain committed to

“I hold to these ideas”
Type of:
believe, conceive, consider, think
judge or regard; look upon; judge

n understanding of the nature or meaning or quality or magnitude of something

appreciation, grasp
a natural appreciation or ability
Type of:
apprehension, discernment, savvy, understanding
the cognitive condition of someone who understands

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.