Definition of keep verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//kiːp//
    ; NAmE NAmE//kiːp//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they keep
    BrE BrE//kiːp//
    ; NAmE NAmE//kiːp//
    he / she / it keeps
    BrE BrE//kiːps//
    ; NAmE NAmE//kiːps//
    past simple kept
    BrE BrE//kept//
    ; NAmE NAmE//kept//
    past participle kept
    BrE BrE//kept//
    ; NAmE NAmE//kept//
    -ing form keeping
    BrE BrE//ˈkiːpɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈkiːpɪŋ//
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  1. 1  [intransitive, transitive] to stay in a particular condition or position; to make somebody/something do this + adj. We huddled together to keep warm. + adv./prep. The notice 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 somebody synonym hold somebody/somethingup 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. save for somebody
  9. 5  [transitive] (especially British English) to save something for somebody keep something for somebody Please keep a seat for me. keep somebody something Please keep me a seat.
  10. put/store
  11. 6  [transitive] keep something + adv./prep. to put or store something in a particular place Keep your passport in a safe place.
  12. shop/restaurant
  13. 7[transitive] keep something (especially British English) to own and manage a shop/store or restaurant Her father kept a grocer's shop.
  14. animals
  15. 8[transitive] keep something to own and care for animals to keep bees/goats/hens
  16. about health
  17. 9[intransitive] + adv./prep. (informal) used to ask or talk about somebody’s health How is your mother keeping? We're all keeping well.
  18. of food
  19. 10[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).’
  20. secret
  21. 11  [transitive] keep a secret | keep something secret (from somebody) to know something and not tell it to anyone Can you keep a secret? She kept her past secret from us all.
  22. promise/appointment
  23. 12  [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.
  24. diary/record
  25. 13  [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 of where each item can be found. I kept a weekly account of my workload and activities.
  26. support somebody
  27. 14  [transitive] keep somebody/yourself to provide what is necessary for somebody to live; to support somebody by paying for food, etc. He scarcely earns enough to keep himself and his family.
  28. protect
  29. 15[transitive] (formal) to protect somebody 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.
  30. in sport
  31. 16[transitive] keep goal (British English, North American English) keep wicket (British English) (in football (soccer ), hockey, cricket, etc.) to guard or protect the goal or wicket see also goalkeeper, wicketkeeper
  32. Word Originlate Old English cēpan ‘seize, take in’, also ‘care for, attend to’, of unknown origin.Extra examples Milk and cream should keep quite well in a fridge. Don’t keep us in suspense —what happened next? I could not keep silent any longer. I want to keep on with part-time work for as long as possible. I wish you wouldn’t keep on interrupting me! I’m amazed that she keeps so cheerful. I’m very sorry to keep you waiting. I’ve kept all her letters. I’ve kept two seats for us near the front. If we all keep to the agreement there won’t be any problems. It was difficult for the team to keep to the plan. Keep close to me. My grandmother kept chickens in her back yard. Residents are not allowed to keep pets. Separate accounts must be kept for each different business activity. She had trouble keeping her balance. She handed me a ten dollar bill. ‘Here— keep the change.’ She needed to keep busy. Sit down and keep calm! The documents are all kept under lock and key. The man in the shop said he’d keep it for me until Friday. The notice said ‘Keep off the grass’. This voucher should be kept. It will be accepted by the Inland Revenue as evidence of a Tax Credit. Try to keep active in the cold weather. Village clerks were unable to keep a proper record of deaths because they were so frequent. We managed to keep dry by huddling in a doorway. Where do you keep the sugar? to keep bees/​goats At the time many working men did not earn enough to keep a wife and children. He kept himself by giving private lessons. I must go now. I’ve kept you from your dinner too long. I need to work—I can’t go on being a kept man. I won’t keep you long. I’ve just got a couple of quick questions. You’re an hour late—what kept you?Idioms Most idioms containing keep are at the entries for the nouns and adjectives in the idioms, for example keep house is at house. 
    1. 1  to 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 somebody to continue doing something Keep going, Sarah, you're nearly there.
    (informal) to be enough for somebody until they get what they are waiting for Have an apple to keep you going till dinner time.
    Phrasal Verbskeep somebody afterkeep at somethingkeep somebody at somethingkeep awaykeep somebody awaykeep backkeep somebodybackkeep back somebodykeep somethingbackkeep somethingback (from somebody)keep downkeep somebodydownkeep somethingdownkeep from somethingkeep somebody from somethingkeep something from somebodykeep something from somethingkeep somethinginkeep somebody inkeep somebody in somethingkeep in with somebodykeep offkeep off somethingkeep off somebodykeep onkeep somebodyonkeep something onkeep onkeep out (of something)keep out somebodykeep out of somethingkeep to somethingkeep (yourself) to yourselfkeep something to yourselfkeep somebody underkeep upkeep upkeep somebody upkeep somethingupkeep up with somebodykeep up with something
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: keep