Definition of hold back phrasal verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

 

hold back

 phrasal verb
phrasal verb
 
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Phrasal Verbs

hold somebodyback

 
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to prevent a school student from progressing to the next grade She was held back in first grade.

    hold somebody/somethingback

     
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  1. 1to prevent someone or something from moving forward or crossing something The police were unable to hold back the crowd. The dam was not strong enough to hold back the flood waters.
  2. 2to prevent the progress or development of someone or something Do you think that mixed-ability classes hold back the better students? We are determined that nothing should hold back the peace talks.

    hold somethingback

     
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  1. 1to not tell someone something they want or need to know to hold back information I think he's holding something back. I'm sure he knows more than he admits.
  2. 2to stop yourself from expressing how you really feel She just managed to hold back her anger. He bravely held back his tears.

hold back (from doing something)

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hold somebody back (from doing something)

 
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to hesitate or to make someone hesitate to act or speak She held back, not knowing how to break the terrible news. I wanted to tell him the truth, but something held me back.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: hold back