see also: Keep
Pronunciation Verb

keep (keeps, present participle keeping; past and past participle kept)

  1. To continue in (a course or mode of action); not to intermit or fall from; to uphold or maintain.
    to keep silence;  to keep one's word;  to keep possession
    • circa 1599 William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (play), Act V, Scene 1,
      Both day and night did we keep company.
    • circa 1749 Tobias Smollett, The Regicide, Act V, Scene 5, in Plays and Poems Written by T. Smollett, M.D., London: T. Evans and R. Baldwin, 1777, p. 106,
      Within the portal as I kept my watch,
  2. (heading, transitive) To hold the status of something.
    1. To maintain possession of.
      I keep a small stock of painkillers for emergencies.
    2. (ditransitive) To maintain the condition of; to preserve in a certain state.
      I keep my specimens under glass to protect them.
      The abundance of squirrels kept the dogs running for hours.
    3. (transitive) To record transactions, accounts, or events in.
      I used to keep a diary.
    4. (transitive) To enter (accounts, records, etc.) in a book.
    5. (archaic) To remain in, to be confined to.
      • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 12, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes, […], book II, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount […], OCLC 946730821 ↗:
        Metrocles somewhat indiscreetly, as he was disputing in his Schole, in presence of his auditory, let a fart, for shame whereof he afterwards kept his house and could not be drawen abroad […].
      • 1605, William Shakespeare, King Lear, III.ii,
        The wrathful skies / Gallow the very wanderers of the dark / And make them keep their caves.
    6. To restrain.
      I keep my pet gerbil away from my brother.
      Don't let me keep you; I know you have things to be doing.
    7. (with from) To watch over, look after, guard, protect.
      May the Lord keep you from harm.
      • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.viii:
        cursse on thy cruell hond, / That twise hath sped; yet shall it not thee keepe / From the third brunt of this my fatall brond […].
    8. To supply with necessities and financially support a person.
      He kept a mistress for over ten years.
    9. (of living things) To raise; to care for.
      He has been keeping orchids since retiring.
      • 1914, Robert Joos, Success with Hens, Forbes & company, p.217:
        Of course boys are boys and need watching, but there is little watching necessary when they keep chickens.
    10. To maintain (an establishment or institution); to conduct; to manage.
      • circa 1599 William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (play), Act III, Scene 2,
        like a pedant that keeps a school
      • 1630, John Hayward (historian), The Life, and Raigne of King Edward the Sixt, London: John Partridge, p. 114,
        They were honourably accompanied and with great estate brought to London, where euery of them kept house by himselfe.
      • 1892, Walter Besant, chapter III, in The Ivory Gate: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, […], OCLC 16832619 ↗:
        At half-past nine on this Saturday evening, the parlour of the Salutation Inn, High Holborn, contained most of its customary visitors. […] In former days every tavern of repute kept such a room for its own select circle, a club, or society, of habitués, who met every evening, for a pipe and a cheerful glass.
    11. To have habitually in stock for sale.
  3. (heading, intransitive) To hold or be held in a state.
    1. (obsolete) To reside for a time; to lodge; to dwell.
      She kept to her bed while the fever lasted.
      • circa 1593 William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, Act V, Scene 2,
        Knock at his study, where, they say, he keeps,
        To ruminate strange plots of dire revenge;
    2. To continue.
      I keep taking the tablets, but to no avail.
    3. To remain edible or otherwise usable.
      Potatoes can keep if they are in a root cellar.
      Latex paint won't keep indefinitely.
      • 1707, [,_John_(DNB00) John Mortimer], The Whole Art of Husbandry ↗
        If the malt be not thoroughly dried, the ale it makes will not keep.
    4. (copulative) To remain in a state.
      The rabbit avoided detection by keeping still.
      Keep calm! There's no need to panic.
  4. (obsolete) To wait for, keep watch for.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, [;view=fulltext chapter x], in Le Morte Darthur, book VIII:
      And thenne whan the damoysel knewe certaynly that he was not syre launcelot / thenne she took her leue and departed from hym / And thenne syre Trystram rode pryuely vnto the posterne where kepte hym la beale Isoud / and there she made hym good chere and thanked god of his good spede
  5. (intransitive, cricket) To act as wicket-keeper.
    Godfrey Evans kept for England for many years.
  6. (intransitive, obsolete) To take care; to be solicitous; to watch.
    • circa 1530 William Tyndale, A Pathway into the holy Scripture in The Whole Workes of W. Tyndall, Iohn Frith, and Doct. Barnes, London: John Day, 1573, p. 384,
      […] kepe that the lustes choke not the word of God that is sowen in vs,
  7. (intransitive, obsolete) To be in session; to take place.
    School keeps today.
  8. (transitive) To observe; to adhere to; to fulfill; not to swerve from or violate.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Second Epistle to Timothy 4.7,
      I have kept the faith:
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, London, Book 7, lines 1271-1272,
      Be strong, live happie, and love, but first of all
      Him whom to love is to obey, and keep
      His great command;
  9. (transitive, dated, by extension) To visit (a place) often; to frequent.
    • circa 1608 John Fletcher (playwright), The Faithful Shepherdess, Act III, Scene 1,
      […] ’tis hallowed ground;
      No Maid seeks here her strayed Cow, or Sheep,
      Fairies, and fawns, and satyrs do it keep:
Synonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Noun


  1. (historical) The main tower of a castle or fortress, located within the castle walls.
    Synonyms: donjon
  2. The food or money required to keep someone alive and healthy; one's support, maintenance.
    He works as a cobbler's apprentice for his keep.
  3. (obsolete) The act or office of keeping; custody; guard; care; heed; charge; notice.
    • a. 1472, Thomas Malory, “(please specify the chapter)”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book VII, [London: […] by William Caxton], published 31 July 1485, OCLC 71490786 ↗; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur […], London: Published by David Nutt, […], 1889, OCLC 890162034 ↗:
      quote en
    • quote en
  4. The state of being kept; hence, the resulting condition; case.
    to be in good keep
  5. (obsolete) That which is kept in charge; a charge.
    • quote en
  6. (engineering) A cap for holding something, such as a journal box, in place.
Translations Translations
Proper noun
  1. Surname

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