American English

Definition of keep verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they keep
    he / she / it keeps
    past simple kept
    -ing form keeping
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  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] to stay in a particular condition or position; to make someone or something do this + adj. We huddled together to keep warm. + adv./prep. The sign said “Keep off (= Do not walk on) the grass”. Keep left along the wall. keep somebody/something + adj. She kept the children amused for hours. keep somebody/something (+ adv./prep.) He kept his coat on. Don't keep us in suspense—what happened next? She had trouble keeping her balance. keep somebody/something doing something I'm very sorry to keep you waiting.
  2. continue
  3. 2[intransitive] to continue doing something; to do something repeatedly keep doing something Keep smiling! keep on doing something Don't keep on interrupting me!
  4. delay
  5. 3[transitive] keep somebody to delay someone synonym hold somebody up You're an hour late—what kept you?
  6. not give back
  7. 4[transitive] keep something to continue to have something and not give it back or throw it away Here's a five dollar bill—please keep the change. I keep all her letters.
  8. put/store
  9. 5[transitive] keep something + adv./prep. to put or store something in a particular place Keep your passport in a safe place.
  10. animals
  11. 6[transitive] keep something to own and care for animals to keep bees/goats/hens
  12. about health
  13. 7[intransitive] + adv./prep. (old-fashioned) (informal) used to ask or talk about someone's health How is your mother keeping? We're all keeping well.
  14. of food
  15. 8[intransitive] to remain in good condition Finish off the pie—it won't keep. (informal) (figurative) “I'd love to hear about it, but I'm late already.” “That's OK—it'll keep (= I can tell you about it later).”
  16. secret
  17. 9[transitive] keep a secret keep something secret (from someone) to know something and not tell it to anyone Can you keep a secret? She kept her past secret from us all.
  18. promise/appointment
  19. 10[transitive] keep your promise/word keep an appointment to do what you have promised to do; to go where you have agreed to go She kept her promise to visit them. He failed to keep his appointment at the clinic.
  20. diary/record
  21. 11[transitive] keep a diary, an account, a record, etc. to write down something as a record She kept a diary for over twenty years. Keep a note about where each item can be found. I kept a weekly record of my workload and activities.
  22. support someone
  23. 12[transitive] keep somebody/yourself to provide what is necessary for someone to live; to support someone by paying for food, etc. He scarcely earns enough to keep himself and his family.
  24. protect
  25. 13[transitive] (formal) to protect someone from something keep somebody May the Lord bless you and keep you (= used in prayers in the Christian Church). keep somebody from something His only thought was to keep the boy from harm.
  26. in sports
  27. 14[transitive] keep goal (in soccer, hockey, etc.) to guard or protect the goal see also goalkeeper
  28. Idioms
    1. 1to make an effort to live normally when you are in a difficult situation or when you have experienced great suffering You just have to keep yourself busy and keep going.
    2. 2(informal) used to encourage someone to continue doing something Keep going, Sarah, you're nearly there.
    keep somebody going (informal)
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    to be enough for someone until they get what they are waiting for Have an apple to keep you going till dinner time.
    Phrasal Verbskeep after somebodykeep somebody afterkeep at somethingkeep somebody at somethingkeep away (from somebody/something)keep somebody/something away (from somebody/something)keep back (from somebody/something)keep somebodybackkeep somebodyback (from somebody/something)keep somethingbackkeep somethingback (from somebody)keep downkeep somebodydownkeep somethingdownkeep from somethingkeep somebody from somethingkeep something from somebodykeep something from somethingkeep somethinginkeep somebody inkeep somebody/yourself in somethingkeep off somethingkeep somebody/somethingoffkeep onkeep somebodyonkeep out (of something)keep somebody/somethingout (of something)keep out of somethingkeep to somethingkeep (yourself) to yourselfkeep something to yourselfkeep upkeep up (with somebody/something)keep somebody upkeep somethingupkeep up with somebodykeep up with something
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: keep