keeps; kept/ˈkɛpt/; keeping keeps; kept/ˈkɛpt/; keeping
Learner's definition of KEEP
1 [+ object] : to continue having or holding (something) : to not return, lose, sell, give away, or throw away (something)
She's going to keep the money she found.
I can't decide whether to sell my old car or keep it for another year.
While the company laid off some employees, others had hopes of keeping their jobs.
The shirt will keep [=retain] its shape after many washings.
an actress who has kept her looks/beauty [=continued to be attractive/beautiful] as she has grown older
“The fare is $4.” “Here's $5. Keep the change.”
He struggled to keep his cool/composure. [=to remain calm; to not become upset or angry]
He vowed to keep his silence about what he had seen. [=to not tell anyone about what he had seen]
2 a [linking verb] : to continue in a specified state, condition, or position
b [+ object] : to cause (someone or something) to continue in a specified state, condition, or position
I asked them to keep quiet.
He vowed to keep silent about what he had seen. [=to not tell anyone about what he had seen]
She likes to keep [=stay] busy.
The program teaches kids how to keep safe near water.
Have you kept in touch with your college roommate? [=have you continued to talk to or write to your college roommate?]
I tried to keep the children quiet during the ceremony.
The local newspaper keeps people informed about what's happening in town.
The article offers tips on how to keep kids safe near water.
The movie will keep you on the edge of your seat.
We need to keep costs under control.
This scarf will help keep you warm.
She keeps herself fit by jogging.
He kept his hands behind his back while we were talking.
Keep both hands on the steering wheel.
It was so cold inside that I kept my coat on.
I promise I'll keep your decision a secret. [=I will not tell anyone your decision]
Keep the mixture chilled until you are ready to serve it.
3 a : to cause or force (someone) to stay in a place
b : to cause (someone) to be late
I won't keep you (here) much longer.
The doctors want to keep me in (the hospital) for further tests.
If you're in a hurry, don't let me keep you.
keep a prisoner in jail
She kept the children in the house during the storm.
There was nothing to keep me in the city.
4 a : to do (something) continuously or again and again — + -ing verb
— often + on b : to cause (someone or something) to do something continuously or again and again — + -ing verb
The teacher asked them to be quiet, but they just kept talking.
The rain kept falling all afternoon.
The dog keeps running away.
Keep walking/driving until you come to a traffic light.
She has a desire for success that keeps her striving to do better.
His boss kept him waiting [=forced him to wait] for over an hour.
They want to keep the company growing.
— see also keep going (below)
5 a : to do what is required by (something, such as a promise)
b : to not tell (a secret) c somewhat formal : to act properly in relation to (something)
She always keeps her promises/word. [=she always does what she promises to do; she always does what she says she will do]
He failed to keep his appointment. [=he did not go to his appointment; he missed his appointment]
6 a : to store (something) in a specified place
b : to have or hold (something) for later use instead of using it now
They keep the ketchup in the refrigerator.
I keep my socks in a drawer.
The sheets are kept in the closet.
He keeps his wallet in his back pocket.
We'll eat some of the cookies now and keep [=save] some for later.
I'll keep my news until later. [=I'll tell you my news later]
(Brit) Would you keep [=(US) save] a seat for me?
7 [no object], of food : to continue to be in a good condition — sometimes used figuratively 8 [+ object], formal : to protect (someone) — usually + from 9 [+ object] : to produce (something, such as a journal or record) by putting information in a book, document, etc., over a period of time
She kept a diary/journal.
He keeps a detailed record of all his purchases.
She keeps a list of books for future reading.
10 a : to take care of (something) b : to operate (something, such as a business) : manage
somewhat old-fashioned [+ object]
11 a : to have (something) available for use b : to have a continuing sexual relationship with (someone who is not your husband or wife)
a married man who keeps a mistress
She never married but she kept a lover for years.
a kept man/woman [=a man/woman who is kept as a lover by someone]
How are you keeping?British
— used to ask if someone feels good, bad, happy, well, etc.
keep after[phrasal verb]
1 keep after (someone)informal : to tell (someone) again and again to do something
My kids kept after me to quit smoking, so I finally did.
I wasn't going to audition, but my friends kept after me.
2 keep (someone) afterUS : to require (a student) to stay at school after classes have ended
keep at[phrasal verb]
1 keep at it : to continue doing or trying to do something
If you keep at it long enough you'll succeed.
The project was difficult, but we kept at it and eventually it was done.
2 keep (someone) at it : to force or cause (someone) to continue doing something
keep back[phrasal verb]
1 : to not go near something
keep (someone) back or keep back (someone)
2 a : to not allow (someone) to go near something b US : to not allow (a student) to advance to the next grade level — usually used as (be) kept back c British : to require (a student) to stay at school after classes have ended 3 keep (something) back or keep back (something) : to not allow (something) to appear or be known
keep company[phrasal verb]
1 keep company with (someone) : to spend time with (someone) — usually used figuratively 2 keep (someone) company : to spend time with (someone who would be alone if you were not there)
keep down[phrasal verb]
1 : to stay close to the ground or floor 2 keep (someone) down : to prevent (someone) from succeeding, winning, etc.
keep (something) down or keep down (something)
3 a : to prevent (something) from increasing or rising b : to prevent (something) from coming up from your stomach and into your mouth again 4 keep it down — used to ask someone to be quiet
keep from[phrasal verb]
1 keep from (doing something) or keep (someone or something) from (doing something) : to not do or experience (something) : to prevent or stop (someone or something) from doing or experiencing (something)
She found it hard to keep from laughing. [=she found it hard not to laugh]
She's been trying to keep herself from eating too much candy.
An umbrella will keep you from getting wet.
It's difficult to keep from feeling worried about this situation.
He was anxious to keep his son from getting into trouble.
Her happy nature kept her from worrying.
I don't want to keep you from (doing) your work. = I don't want to keep you from working.
She tied the knot tightly to keep it from loosening.
The company has taken steps to keep the building from being broken into again.
It was hard to keep from [=avoid] confusing the twins.
2 keep (something) from (someone) : to not tell (something) to (someone)
keep going[phrasal verb]
1 : to continue moving forward 2 : to continue doing something 3 keep (someone) going : to make (someone) able to continue doing something at a difficult time 4 keep (something) going : to cause (something) to continue to exist or function
keep in[phrasal verb]
1 keep (something) in : to not show or express (something, such as an emotion) 2 keep (someone) in (something) : to continue to provide (someone) with (something needed or wanted) 3 keep in with (someone)chiefly British : to remain friendly with (someone)
keep off[phrasal verb]
1 keep off (something) or keep (someone or something) off (something) : to stop or prevent (someone or something) from being on (something) 2 keep (weight) off : to continue to weigh a lower amount than you formerly weighed : to not regain weight that you have lost 3 a keep off (something) : to not talk about (something) b keep (someone) off (something) : to prevent (someone) from talking about (something)
keep on[phrasal verb]
1 informal : to continue happening, doing something, working, etc. 2 keep (someone) on : to continue to have (someone) as an employee 3 keep on at (someone)chiefly British, informal : to say the same thing to (someone) again and again in a way that is annoying
keep out[phrasal verb]
keep out of (something)
2 a : to not enter (a place) b : to not become involved in (something) 3 keep out (someone or something) or keep (someone or something) out (of a place) : to stop or prevent (someone or something) from entering (a place)
keep to[phrasal verb]
keep to (something)
1 a : to stay in or on (something) : to not leave (something) b : to not go beyond (something) c : to act or behave in the way required by (something) d : to not move away from or change (something)
keep to yourself
or chiefly Britishkeep yourself to yourself : to stay apart from other people : to avoid other people b keep (something) to yourself : to keep (something) secret
keep up[phrasal verb]
1 : to go or make progress at the same rate as others : to stay even with others in a race, competition, etc. — often + with 2 : to continue to know the newest information about something 3 : to continue happening 4 keep up with (someone)informal : to continue to talk to or write to (someone) 5 keep (someone) up : to prevent (someone) from sleeping
keep (something) up or keep up (something)
6 a : to continue doing (something) b : to prevent (something) from getting worse, weaker, etc.
We need to keep standards up.
Keep your spirits up!
The house had been kept up [=maintained] nicely.
You need to exercise more to keep your strength up.
◊ If you keep up your end of something (such as a bargain or agreement) you do what you have promised or agreed to do.
Learner's definition of KEEP
: the strongest part of a castle built in the Middle Ages
1 : forever or permanently 2 : with the understanding that you may keep what you win
: the amount of money you need to pay for food, clothing, a place to live, etc. — used in the phrase earn your keep