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keep1 verb (kept, keeping) 1 to have; to possess. 2 to continue to have something; not to part with it; to save. 3 to maintain or retain keep one's temper. 4 to store. 5 tr & intr to remain or cause something to remain in a certain state, position, place, etc. 6 intrans to continue or be frequently doing something keep smiling kept fainting. 7 said of a shopkeeper, etc: to have something regularly in stock. 8 to own and look after (an animal, etc) keep hens. 9 to own or run (a shop, boarding-house, etc). 10 to look after something keep house keep this for me. 11 intrans said of food: to remain fit to be eaten This cake keeps well. 12 to maintain (a record, diary, accounts, etc). 13 to obey (the law, etc). 14 to preserve (a secret). 15 to stick to (a promise or appointment). 16 to celebrate (a festival, etc) in the traditional way; to follow (a custom). 17 to support someone financially. 18 to employ We keep a gardener. 19 to protect keep them from harm. 20 football to guard (the goal). 21 cricket (usually keep wicket) to guard the wicket. 22 to remain firm on something managed to keep his feet despite the strong wind. noun 1 the cost of one's food and other daily expenses earn one's keep. 2 the central tower or stronghold in a Norman castle. for keeps colloq permanently; for good. How are you keeping? How are you? keep going to persevere in spite of problems. keep someone going to help them survive difficulties, etc. keep to oneself to avoid the company of others. keep something to oneself not to reveal it to others. keep up with the Joneses colloq to compete with neighbours in a display of material prosperity. See also keep up with someone below.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon cepan to guard, observe or watch.
keep at something to persevere at or persist in it.
keep something back 1 to conceal information, etc. 2 to suppress (laughter, tears, etc).
keep down to keep low; to hide.
keep someone down to oppress them; to prevent their development or progress, etc.
keep something down 1 to control or limit (prices, development, etc). 2 to oppress or restrain it. 3 to manage not to vomit (food, etc).
keep from something to hold back from doing it or delay doing it couldn't keep from laughing.
keep someone from something to prevent them from doing it.
keep something from someone to prevent (information) from reaching them.
keep someone in to confine them; to prevent them from escaping was kept in after school and given one hundred lines.
keep something in 1 to confine it; to hold it back. 2 to conceal it.
keep in with someone to remain on good terms with them, especially for selfish reasons.
keep off something 1 to avoid (a harmful food, awkward topic, etc). 2 to stay away from it Keep off my books!
keep someone off something to prevent them from approaching or attacking it.
keep on doing something to persist in it.
keep someone on to continue to employ them.
keep something on 1 to continue renting or using it We had a flat in town but decided not to keep it on. 2 to continue to wear (a piece of clothing) Keep your gloves on.
keep on about something or someone to talk continually and repetitively about it or them.
keep on at someone to nag or harass them.
keep to something not to leave it Keep to the path.
keep someone to something to make them adhere to (a promise, decision, etc). I'll keep you to that.
keep someone under to subdue, repress or crush them.
keep something up 1 to prevent (eg spirits, morale, etc) from falling. 2 to maintain (a habit, friendship, pace, etc). 3 to go on making (payments, etc). 4 to maintain (a house, garden, etc) in good condition.
keep up with someone 1 not to be left behind by them. 2 to maintain the pace or standard set by them.
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