Other forms: reserved; reserves; reserving

As a noun, reserve refers to the quality of a shy or modest person who doesn’t easily express his or her feelings. As a verb, to reserve is to stash something away or to set it aside for future use.

Reserve can also refer to backup supplies or resources. If a military is running out of ammunition or food, they may have to dig into the reserve to replenish their supplies. Reserve is also used as a verb to mean "obtain in advance." If you’re expecting a big crowd at your sister's dance recital, you might show up early to reserve seats for your family members. You could also reserve a table at a restaurant for dinner after the show.

Definitions of reserve
  1. verb
    hold back or set aside, especially for future use or contingency
    see moresee less
    set aside or apart for a specific purpose or use
    type of:
    keep back, withhold
    hold back; refuse to hand over or share
  2. verb
    give or assign a resource to a particular person or cause
  3. verb
    arrange for and reserve (something for someone else) in advance
    reserve me a seat on a flight”
    synonyms: book, hold
    see moresee less
    hold open, keep, keep open, save
    retain rights to
    type of:
    bespeak, call for, quest, request
    express the need or desire for; ask for
  4. verb
    obtain or arrange (for oneself) in advance
    “We managed to reserve a table at Maxim's”
    book, hold
    arrange for and reserve (something for someone else) in advance
    see moresee less
    book up
    book all available places or tickets
    type of:
    bespeak, call for, quest, request
    express the need or desire for; ask for
  5. noun
    something kept back or saved for future use or a special purpose
    synonyms: backlog, stockpile
    see moresee less
    show 10 types...
    hide 10 types...
    a supply or stock held in reserve for future use (especially in emergencies)
    fuel level
    the amount of fuel remaining
    reserve account, reserve fund
    funds taken out of earnings to provide for anticipated future payments
    blood bank
    a place for storing whole blood or blood plasma
    eye bank
    a place for storing and preserving corneas that are obtained from human corpses immediately after death; used for corneal transplantation to patients with corneal defects
    food bank
    a place where food is contributed and made available to those in need
    soil bank
    land retired from crop cultivation and planted with soil-building crops; government subsidies are paid to farmers for their retired land
    hidden reserve
    reserves that do not show up on the balance sheet (as by understating values)
    any communal combination of funds
    allowance, allowance account, valuation account, valuation reserve
    a reserve fund created by a charge against profits in order to provide for changes in the value of a company's assets
    type of:
    (finance) profits that are not paid out as dividends but are added to the capital base of the corporation
  6. noun
    armed forces that are not on active duty but can be called in an emergency
    synonyms: military reserve
    see moresee less
    type of:
    armed forces, armed services, military, military machine, war machine
    the military forces of a nation
  7. noun
    a district that is reserved for a particular purpose
    synonyms: reservation
    see moresee less
    Indian reservation
    a reservation set aside for the use of Indians
    a reservation where animals are protected
    shooting preserve
    a preserve on which hunting is permitted during certain months of the year
    type of:
    administrative district, administrative division, territorial division
    a district defined for administrative purposes
  8. noun
    an athlete who plays only when a starter on the team is replaced
    synonyms: second-stringer, substitute
    see moresee less
    bench warmer
    (sports) a substitute who seldom plays
    pinch hitter
    (baseball) a substitute for the regular batter
    type of:
    athlete, jock
    a person trained to compete in sports
  9. noun
    formality and propriety of manner
    synonyms: modesty
    see moresee less
    the trait of behaving with reserve and decorum
    type of:
    correctitude, properness, propriety
    correct or appropriate behavior
  10. noun
    the trait of being uncommunicative; not volunteering anything more than necessary
    synonyms: reticence, taciturnity
    see moresee less
    type of:
    the trait of being uncommunicative
  11. noun
    (medicine) potential capacity to respond in order to maintain vital functions
    see moresee less
    pulmonary reserve
    the additional volume of air that the lungs can inhale and exhale when breathing to the limit of capacity in times of stress
    type of:
    indefinite quantity
    an estimated quantity




Cite this entry
  • MLA
  • APA
  • Chicago

A paragraph of text

Copy citation
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘reserve'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up reserve for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer