There are 2 main definitions of hold in English:

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hold 1

Pronunciation: /hōld/

verb (past and past participle held /held/)

1 [with object] Grasp, carry, or support with one’s arms or hands: she was holding a brown leather suitcase [no object]: he held onto the back of a chair
More example sentences
  • In the afternoon a banner proclaiming his victory is unrolled and held by supporters.
  • Elizabeth looked up to see an adorable girl of about seven holding a small blue ball.
  • They both gathered in the dining room, where Hilkin was standing, holding a large brown bag.
clasp, clutch, grasp, grip, clench, cling to, hold on to;
carry, bear
1.1Keep or sustain in a specified position: I held the door open for him
More example sentences
  • A woman claimed she felt herself being held down as she came round from an operation.
  • He sniffed haughtily, holding open the door for them and watching as they shuffled past.
  • The security men were holding back the crowd to let the shaken minister and the officials get into a waiting car.
1.2Embrace (someone): Mark pulled her into his arms and held her close
More example sentences
  • Couples embraced, mothers held their children close, men nodded to each other.
  • Instinctively I pulled Danny into my arms and held him close.
  • Ray put his arms around me and held me close to him, so I rested my head against his shoulder.
embrace, hug, clasp, cradle, enfold, squeeze, fold in one's arms, cling to
1.3Be able to bear (the weight of a person or thing): I reached up to the nearest branch that seemed likely to hold my weight
More example sentences
  • She toke a deep breath and licked her lips before she stood up again and as if by a miracle, her legs were able to hold her weight.
  • I picked a random room and walked in, not being able to hold Corbin's weight long enough to find his room.
  • Several pieces of wood joined together can hold more weight than just a piece of wood.
support, bear, carry, take, keep up, sustain, prop up, shore up
1.4(Of a vehicle) maintain close contact with (the road), especially when driven at speed: the car holds the corners very well
More example sentences
  • The car holds the road very, very well at whatever speed I put it to, and I got her up to 110 to 115.
  • Certainly the car holds the road well and steers nicely and positively, whether on rural rides or slamming it down the motorway.
  • The Cooper S holds the road well and although the ride can be a little stiff at times, that's only to be expected with something this sporty.
1.5(Of a ship or an aircraft) continue to follow (a particular course): the ship is holding a southeasterly course
More example sentences
  • The night was still, with no breeze at all, yet the fully rigged ship continued to hold her course for land.
  • For the moment I held a steady course and kept a focus on the orientation instruments .
  • The minister's mission is to hold a steady course until the next general election.
1.6 [no object] archaic Keep going in a particular direction: he held on his way, close behind his friend
2 [with object] Keep or detain (someone): the police were holding him on a murder charge [with object and complement]: she was held prisoner for two days
More example sentences
  • Police say he held the woman at gunpoint for about an hour.
  • We were held in a police cell for a week, and some of us were suspended from our jobs.
  • The government changed the law at the beginning of last year to allow the police to hold people for 14 days rather than seven.
detain, hold in custody, imprison, lock up, put behind bars, put in prison, put in jail, incarcerate, keep under lock and key, confine, constrain, intern, impound
informal put away
2.1Keep possession of (something), typically in the face of a challenge or attack: the rebels held the town for many weeks [no object]: White managed to hold onto his lead
More example sentences
  • Only the original rebel group which holds the northern half of Ivory Coast is, so far, in talks with the government.
  • Rebels hold the north and loyalist forces the south of what was considered a haven of peace and prosperity until a 1999 coup.
  • Thousands of others remain trapped in the northern hills held by the rebels.
2.2Keep (someone’s interest or attention).
Example sentences
  • While not quite worthy of some of the hype it received last year, Monster's Ball is an interesting film that certainly holds your attention.
  • She moved closer to the window to see what had been interesting enough to hold Amber's attention.
  • Ailsa glanced at it again, then decided it wasn't interesting enough to hold her attention.
maintain, keep, occupy, engross, absorb, interest, captivate, fascinate, enthrall, rivet, mesmerize, transfix;
engage, catch, capture, arrest
2.3(Of a singer or musician) sustain (a note).
Example sentences
  • Unfortunately for us the singer can actually hold a note, thereby making all of his vocals entirely understandable.
  • Unfortunately the singers having some trouble holding the notes and it seems to be sapping the energy they're all generating.
  • The singer can't really hold a tune.
2.4Stay or cause to stay at a certain value or level: [no object]: the savings rate held at 5% [with object]: he is determined to hold down inflation
More example sentences
  • Rather than cutting spending, it should be held at current levels to create stability in the system.
  • It has been held at that level for the whole time this Government has been in office.
  • The decision was widely expected by analysts and borrowing costs have now been held at their current levels since the start of June.
3 [no object] Remain secure, intact, or in position without breaking or giving way: the boat’s anchor would not hold
More example sentences
  • The Oxford defence held firm throughout while James Forrest continually harassed the home defence.
  • Coastal defences had held well under the extreme conditions of recent days, the Environment Agency said.
  • The arches supporting the weight above still held as strong as the day they were built.
3.1(Of a favorable condition or situation) continue without changing: let’s hope her luck holds
More example sentences
  • We expect the ceasefire to continue holding in order to enable this process to move forward at a quicker pace.
  • So it is back to square one unless the Good Friday Agreement holds.
  • The troops are still there, of course, and the peace is still holding.
persist, continue, carry on, go on, hold out, keep up, last, endure, stay, remain
3.2Be or remain valid or available: I’ll have that coffee now, if the offer still holds
More example sentences
  • None of these conditions is likely to hold in the situations we studied.
  • It makes sense as a matter of economics only when several conditions hold.
  • Our offer still holds. If they want to have a debate and a vote on a constitutional amendment, we're prepared to accept that agreement.
be available, be valid, hold good, stand, apply, remain, exist, be the case, be in force, be in effect
3.3(Of an argument or theory) be logical, consistent, or convincing: their views still seem to hold up extremely well
More example sentences
  • If your argument holds, why are you bothering to say anything here?
  • And if something travels faster than light Einstein's Theory doesn't hold.
  • She shows that the upbeat view doesn't hold up in the face of a careful examination of the numbers.
be convincing, be logical, hold water, bear examination, be sound
3.4 (hold to) Refuse to abandon or change (a principle or opinion).
Example sentences
  • He has decided that attaining power is more important than holding to his principles.
  • Anglican arguments prevailed and the Catholics, while holding to their faith, abandoned political resistance.
  • He still holds to the view that progress and religion are inextricably linked in a positive sense.
3.5 [with object] (hold someone to) Cause someone to adhere to (a commitment).
Example sentences
  • In that case it will be up to the more idealistic among us to hold the president to his commitment.
  • Flood victims will want to hold them to that commitment.
  • The Labour Party manifesto said that it had no intention of restricting the sport of shooting and we will seek to hold them to that commitment.
4 [with object] Contain or be capable of containing (a specified amount): the tank held twenty-four gallons
More example sentences
  • My lungs feel like they have suddenly compressed and aren't big enough to hold an adequate amount of oxygen.
  • DVDs are capable of holding 7 times the amount of space compared to your typical CD.
  • He pulled his gym bag from under his bed, thinking that it would be big enough to hold everything for the next two days.
take, contain, accommodate, fit;
have a capacity of, have room for
4.1Be able to drink (a reasonable amount of alcohol) without becoming drunk or suffering any ill effects: I can hold my liquor as well as anyone
More example sentences
  • The judge said he thought it much more likely it was not being able to hold his drink which had triggered Hussain's actions and contributed to his loss of temper.
  • He really can't hold his drink well though, half a shandy and he started pouring his little heart out to me on the way back to the hotel.
  • Jake was famous for not being able to hold his drink.
4.2Have or be characterized by: I don’t know what the future holds
More example sentences
  • Whatever the future holds this has certainly opened the eyes of governments around the globe.
  • Once more the computer was produced to show me what the future held, based on a range of percentage growth projections.
  • Of course, like anything in the future, this holds terrifying possibilities.
5 [with object] Have in one’s possession: the managing director still holds fifty shares in the company
More example sentences
  • He holds Bank of Ireland shares worth almost €4m.
  • Millions of former Abbey shareholders now hold Banco Santander shares.
  • However, these are high-risk trusts and the shares must be held for five years.
possess, have, own, bear, carry, have to one's name
5.1 [no object] North American informal Be in possession of illegal drugs: he was holding, and the police hauled him off to jail
5.2Have or occupy (a job or position).
Example sentences
  • If nothing else, it's past time for a Hispanic to hold such a high office of state.
  • Women commonly hold both an office or factory job and the job of managing the household.
  • His younger brother, Alfred, would hold this same office five years later.
5.3Have or adhere to (a belief or opinion): I feel nothing but pity for someone who holds such chauvinistic views [with clause]: they hold that all literature is empty of meaning
More example sentences
  • Only 24 hours later, few within the party itself could pretend to hold such an optimistic opinion on the future of their leader.
  • Lavoisier's belief reveals that he still held a somewhat traditional view of elements.
  • It is a subject on which Evangelicals hold differing opinions.
maintain, consider, take the view, believe, think, feel, deem, be of the opinion;
judge, rule, decide
informal reckon
formal opine, esteem
5.4 [with object and complement] Consider (someone) to be responsible or liable for a particular situation: you can’t hold yourself responsible for what happened
More example sentences
  • He holds the lawyer responsible for the death of his sister.
  • It's time to hold our elected officials responsible for what's happening in our hospitals.
  • Nor can he be held entirely responsible for the inadequacy of the flood defences, despite a specific warning well in advance.
5.5 (hold someone/something in) Regard someone or something with (a specified feeling): the speed limit is held in contempt by many drivers
More example sentences
  • So why is it that journalists are held in even lower regard by the general public than politicians?
  • Such societies are held in relatively low regard by the college authorities.
  • Kathleen, Madeline and Kate are held in very high regard by the Irish-American community in New York.
5.6 [with clause] (Of a judge or court) rule; decide: the Court of Appeals held that there was no evidence to support the judge’s assessment
More example sentences
  • On appeal the Court of Appeal held that the judge had properly allowed the evidence of the interviews to be given.
  • The Court of Appeal held that the judge was correct to take this approach.
  • The Court of Appeal held that the trial judge was justified in making that decision.
6 [with object] Keep or reserve for someone: a reservation can be held for twenty-four hours
More example sentences
  • Much of the money was being held in reserve to help pay for a new sports hall.
  • Mr Cunliffe said the news had come too late for this year's budget process and the money would go into the general fund to be held in reserve.
  • Of the nineteen planes, five would be held in reserve during the attacks.
6.1Prevent from going ahead or occurring: hold your fire!
More example sentences
  • It was certainly not the kind of news for which editors hold the front page.
  • ‘Hold your fire until I say otherwise,’ he ordered.
  • Most experts also thought the Bank would hold its fire for fear of giving fresh impetus to house price rises or high consumer debt levels.
6.2Maintain (a telephone connection) until the person one has telephoned is free to speak: please hold, and I’ll see if he’s available [no object]: will you hold?
More example sentences
  • The Evening Press tried to get through to the service, but, after being told to hold the line, had to wait for three minutes before getting any reply.
  • Please hold and your call will be answered as soon as possible.
  • ‘You have my daughter Mia there. I wonder if I can have a word with her please.’ ‘Certainly sir. Just hold the line and I'll take the phone through to her.’
6.3North American informal Refrain from adding or using (something, typically an item of food or drink): a strawberry margarita, but hold the tequila
More example sentences
  • Add a slice of cheese to your sandwich, but hold the mayonnaise.
  • As more Americans hold the cream and cut the carbs, Starbucks has been forced to respond.
  • Would Steve McQueen have been a skinny latte man? Does Sean Penn ask them to hold the fries and the bun when he orders a burger?
6.4 (hold it) informal Used as a way of exhorting someone to wait or to stop doing something: hold it right there, pal!
More example sentences
  • Hold it right there. No one's going anywhere.
  • Hold it! Something doesn't sound right.
  • ‘Whoa, hold it a minute,’ Mike said, sitting up straight in his chair.
6.5 [no object] archaic Restrain oneself.
7 [with object] Arrange and take part in (a meeting or conversation): a meeting was held at the church
More example sentences
  • Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust holds its annual general meeting tonight.
  • The meeting will be held at St John's and St Mark's Church Hall in Parkinson Street at 7pm.
  • The official opening was held on Monday night last and a full report will be carried in our next issue.
conduct, have, organize, run
formal convoke


1An act or manner of grasping something; a grip: he caught hold of her arm he lost his hold and fell
More example sentences
  • I tried to smooth down my hair but Noah caught hold of my hands and held them in his, looking me straight in the eye.
  • I slipped, caught hold of the back of a chair, and sat down on the floor, heavily.
  • He slid down slowly and Cora, alarmed, caught hold of him around the waist.
grip, grasp, clasp, clutch
1.1A particular way of grasping or restraining someone, especially an opponent in wrestling or judo.
Example sentences
  • For example, wrestling includes many holds, which can easily be performed in such a way that they damage the elbow, shoulder, neck or leg joints.
  • Now, I will be the first to tell anyone that there is a lot more to being an announcer than knowing the names of moves and holds.
  • He is a master of numerous holds and throws and is a throwback to a time when stories were told in the ring and not on the microphone.
1.2A place where one can grip with one’s hands or feet while climbing: he felt carefully with his feet for a hold and swung himself up
More example sentences
  • Try to position your hands and feet on the holds in the positions you will want them in for the next move.
  • When I latched on to this hold and let my feet swing out from the face below, I felt an alarming sense of fatigue in my arms.
  • He set his feet firmly apart and reaching forward, gripped the rough holds.
1.3A way of influencing someone: he discovered that Tom had some kind of hold over his father
1.4A degree of power or control: military forces tightened their hold on the capital
More example sentences
  • At least this season Ferrari's hold has been, temporarily at least, broken.
  • Antony remained in the east, while Octavian retained a brutal hold on Italy.
  • The military consolidated their hold on power.
2 archaic A fortress.



be left holding the bag (or baby)

informal Be left with an unwelcome responsibility, typically without warning.
Example sentences
  • Ultimately our soldiers are the ones left holding the bag.
  • When the steady market increases came to a halt, and the dishonesty of some in corporate America came to light, shareholders were often left holding the bag.
  • Doctors may be feeling as though they were left holding the bag.

don't hold your breath

see breath.

get hold of

Grasp (someone or something) physically.
Example sentences
  • She snatched up the nearest thing that her hand could get hold of.
  • When I pick him up, he clutches whatever he can get hold of.
  • One fireman seemed to get hold of him then he seemed to slip from his grasp.
3.1Grasp (something) intellectually; understand.
Example sentences
  • If this doesn't make sense to you (it took me a while to get hold of the idea) don't worry.
  • Once you get hold of the concept, you just need to use a bit of common sense to tackle tricky questions.
informal3.2 Obtain: if you can’t get hold of ripe tomatoes, add some tomato puree
More example sentences
  • We are very concerned that someone is attempting to get hold of original certificates, which could then be used to obtain false documentation such as passports or for other fraudulent purposes.
  • Robert had a gift for acquiring guarded information that no one else could get hold of.
  • It is very easy for young people to get hold of their parents' credit cards or to acquire credit cards by other means.
informal3.3 Find or manage to contact (someone): I’ll try and get hold of Mark
More example sentences
  • All he was able to say when his wife in London managed to get hold of him was simply to repeat, ‘Everything's gone.’
  • We got the story back to Scotland in time for the first editions, and Patricia Ferguson managed to get hold of Jack McConnell in China.
  • Eventually, she managed to get hold of neighbours who rushed her to hospital.

hold someone/something at bay

see bay5.

hold one's breath

see breath.

hold someone/something cheap

archaic Have a low opinion of someone or something.
Example sentences
  • Rather than holding their manhood cheap, they step forward to share in the glory.
  • Even if you don't believe in the cause yourself, you have to admit that this is the sort of thing that makes gentlemen safe abed hold their manhood cheap.
  • I could tell you that at least one person would not hold his manhood cheap and that he still has the moustaches to prove it.

hold court

Be the center of attention amid a crowd of one’s admirers.
Example sentences
  • Fifteen minutes later, he was already holding court with a crowd of reporters, fielding questions without being out of breath.
  • At the centre of the room a Rubenesque woman is holding court, the light catching a twist of green at the front of her coal black hair.
  • Mum Brenda always holds court at family gatherings.

hold someone/something dear

Care for or value someone or something greatly: fidelity is something most of us hold dear
More example sentences
  • Canadians hold their values dear, but are not keen to see them imposed on others.
  • We hold these values dear to our hearts because they resonate with strong emotional ties.
  • It is in those moments when we face our fears that laughter is especially welcome, and comic and tender memories are held dear.

hold fast

Remain tightly secured: the door held fast, obviously locked
More example sentences
  • The door holds fast for just a moment before giving, groaning its displeasure at the shabby treatment it has recently received.
  • The chain around my neck held fast.
  • He turned back to the door and pressed the bar, but it held fast.
9.1Continue to believe in or adhere to an idea or principle: it is important that we hold fast to the policies
More example sentences
  • I, for one, try to hold fast to the Bible and it's principles.
  • I hold fast to my faith and my practices, but have to be flexible.
  • More than 10 years down the track, I hold fast to that maxim.

hold the fort

Take responsibility for a situation while another person is temporarily absent.
Example sentences
  • I just feel that I'm holding the fort until my father comes back.
  • Today is the last day that I'm going to be holding the fort at work.
  • As the strike continues, four heads of department are holding the fort.

hold one's ground


hold someone's hand

Give a person comfort, guidance, or moral support in a difficult situation.
Example sentences
  • It isn't like an American or British detective series where the solicitor sits in and holds your hand.
  • One of the most common routes is to take is the law conversion course, usually with a training contract at a law firm that holds your hand through the process and pays nicely too.
  • It helps if someone holds your hand and sort of walks you through the day, which someone did.

hold hands

(Of two or more people) clasp each other by the hand, typically as a sign of affection.
Example sentences
  • Soon the pair hit it off and spent the return journey holding hands and gazing into each other's eyes.
  • Two friends engulfed in grief held hands helping each other through the difficult time.
  • Almost four hundred years later it still is the awe inspiring place where lovers hold hands and swoon over each other.

hold someone/something harmless

Law Indemnify someone or something.
Example sentences
  • Add a clause to the sales contract saying the seller agrees to hold you harmless and indemnify you against any claims that occurred before you owned the boat.
  • Yet once the law recognizes the possibility of holding a trivial error harmless, it is a relatively small step to say that even substantial errors that have a trivial impact on the outcome should be held harmless.
  • The pharmaceutical industry convinced political leaders to hold it harmless against lawsuits while, at the same time, profiting from a massive vaccination program actively promoted by government.

hold one's horses

[usually as imperative] informal Wait a moment.
Example sentences
  • There are a number of reasons, and if they just hold their horses for a moment, I shall explain those reasons to them.
  • But hold your horses - some already have their tickets.
  • ‘OK, OK, hold your horses… ‘she started to say as everyone headed for the door.

hold the line

Not yield to the pressure of a difficult situation: France’s central bank would hold the line
More example sentences
  • Most parents already find it difficult to hold the line.
  • Over the years critics have noted that Terry often found it difficult to hold the line on a budget.
  • I think that he is sticking to his word and holding the line on the tax cuts that he promised to give.

hold one's nose

Squeeze one’s nostrils with one’s fingers in order to avoid inhaling an unpleasant smell.
Example sentences
  • She backed up slightly holding her nose at the horrid smell that reached her nostrils.
  • Tania is holding her nose against the smell of urine and all are dressed warmly to beat the cold.
  • ‘Yeah, and take a shower and make sure you brush your teeth, you smell’ Trey said, holding his nose.

hold one's own

see own.

hold one's peace

see peace.

hold (one's) serve (or service)

(In tennis and other racket sports) win a game in which one is serving.
Example sentences
  • You know, I was able to just hold my serve and keep that break, and the then break her to win it.
  • There are a few factors that will increase your chances of holding serve even without a powerful serve.
  • They then recorded a second break point for the 5-3 advantage and held serve for the victory.

hold the stage

see stage.

hold sway

see sway.

hold someone to bail

Law Bind by bail.
Example sentences
  • The objection that the bail had discharged the judgement and for his indemnity had arrested the plaintiff here, and held him to bail, is not supported by the requisite evidence to establish the fact.
  • Bement held him to bail in the sum of $500 for his appearance to Court.
  • It shall require the sheriff of the county where the defendant may be found forthwith to arrest him and hold him to bail in a specified sum, and to return the order at a place and time therein mentioned to the clerk of the court in which the action is brought.

hold one's tongue

[often in imperative] informal Remain silent.
Example sentences
  • I tried to hold my tongue, but I cannot take it anymore.
  • Here's where I attempt to hold my tongue for the day and try to stay away from politics and war.
  • Many times my students make me upset, but I have to control myself and hold my tongue so as not to hurt others.

hold someone/something to ransom

see ransom.

hold true (or good)

Remain true or valid: his views still hold true today
More example sentences
  • Whether these findings on exercise motivation hold true for humans remains to be studied.
  • The old trade union maxim still holds true: United we stand, divided we fall.
  • Lord Acton's dictum that absolute power corrupts absolutely holds good today.

hold up one's head (or hold one's head high)

see head.

hold water

[often with negative] (Of a statement, theory, or line of reasoning) appear to be valid, sound, or reasonable: this argument just does not hold water
More example sentences
  • I have proved that your statements don't hold water.
  • The theory that does not hold water with me is that cannabis leads on to harder drugs.
  • The explanation given last night does not, on reflection, appear to hold water.
be tenable, ring true, bear scrutiny, make sense, stand up, hold up, be convincing, be plausible, be sound

no holds barred

(In wrestling) with no restrictions on the kinds of holds that are used.
Example sentences
  • Forms of contemporary no holds barred wrestling in which rules are thrown out the window are Hardcore Wrestling and Cage Fighting.
  • This would be a bruising, no-holds-barred grapple.
  • A fun, no holds barred brawl between Finlay and JBL started the night off right.
29.1Used to convey that no rules or restrictions apply in a conflict or dispute: no-holds-barred military action
More example sentences
  • This was a tough no holds barred encounter which threatened to spill over at several junctures such was the committed and no-nonsense approach adopted by both teams.
  • ‘It is a totally honest account of what it was like to be with the front line pickets, no holds barred, a wonderful document,’ he says.
  • Keep the questions coming, ask about anything that is on your mind with no holds barred, and I will do my best to provide answers.

on hold

Waiting to be connected while making a telephone call.
Example sentences
  • However for consumers, five minutes of waiting on hold, can undo years of advertising and brand exposure.
  • Businesses even need a licence to play music on their telephone line when customers are put on hold.
  • People trapped in fires don't want to be stuck on hold listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons
30.1Temporarily not being dealt with or pursued: he put his career on hold
More example sentences
  • Many deals have been put on hold, and may be shelved for months if the market falls flat on its face for a prolonged period.
  • It will not be surprising if all football activities are put on hold because of these ongoing squabbles.
  • But discussions look set to be put on hold because of an ongoing problem regarding the new access road.

take hold

Start to have an effect: the reforms of the late nineteenth century had taken hold
More example sentences
  • In large doses the anaesthetic effect takes hold and can lead to respiratory problems.
  • As many of your readers will know, meningitis can take hold rapidly with devastating and sometimes fatal effects.
  • As forty degrees of sun and a lack of shade took hold, so my thoughts wandered.

there is no holding someone back

Used to convey that someone is particularly determined or cannot be prevented from doing something: there’s no holding you back these days
More example sentences
  • Barry is back with us again after returning to Aussie for a while to save up to buy a new shirt and doubtlessly you will see him in these reports quite often in the weeks to come - there is no holding him now.
  • Food nearly consumed, we once again found out that Dave had found the microphone; there is no holding him now.
  • when he's determined to get away, there's no holding him.

Phrasal verbs


hold something against

Allow past actions or circumstances to have a negative influence on one’s present attitude toward (someone): he knew that if he failed her, she would hold it against him forever
More example sentences
  • Failure to give evidence on its own cannot prove guilt, but depending on the circumstances, you may hold his failure against him when deciding whether he is guilty.
  • If we forgive someone we must let go of anger or blame for whatever they have done, stop holding it against them, and act with love towards them from now on.
  • I respect what everyone else decides but I hope my refusal is not held against me.

hold back

Hesitate to act or speak: he held back, remembering the mistake he had made before
More example sentences
  • Whereas most DJs put on this all pervasive and all-knowing on-air persona, he holds back and comes across as merely another average guy just trying to get his head around this strange world we live in.
  • However, it holds back from actually making a critical judgment.
  • Our very opinionated panel never holds back on the big stories of the week.
hesitate, pause, stop oneself, restrain oneself, desist, forbear

hold someone/something back

Prevent or restrict the advance, progress, or development of someone or something: Jane struggled to hold back her laughter
More example sentences
  • It holds me back from progressing as fast as I'd like.
  • We will not allow this experience to hold us back from doing anything.
  • We have so many ideas on promoting the history of soccer in America but our lack of funds is holding us back.
hinder, hamper, impede, obstruct, inhibit, hobble, check, curb, block, thwart, balk, hamstring, restrain, frustrate, stand in someone's way
(hold something back)3.1 Refuse or be unwilling to make something known: you’re not holding anything back from me, are you?
More example sentences
  • She leaves a suicide note, whose contents are held back until an appropriately melodramatic turning point.
  • Today, government figures are held back not only by a fear of being rumbled, but a terror that they won't be able to pull it off.
  • Well, one of the reasons I think there is a whiff of scandal here, at least as far as journalists are concerned, is because a lot of this information was held back by the administration.
withhold, hide, conceal, keep secret, keep hidden, keep quiet about, keep to oneself, hush up
informal sit on, keep under one's hat

hold someone down

Keep someone under strict control or severely restrict their freedom: the people are held down by a repressive military regime
More example sentences
  • Twenty men could hold down the strongest strong man in any society, ancient or modern.
  • She had seen it collapse, would have run back into the flames, but strong arms had held her down, apparently.
  • Knox, a teacher's daughter, reportedly burst into tears when it was suggested she held her flatmate down.

hold something down

informal Succeed in keeping a job or position for a period of time.
Example sentences
  • Antony left his girlfriend a while ago, he has a job and he's holding it down.
  • In the past I haven't held a job down but I've managed to keep this one because I enjoy it and I get support and help.
  • My father came from a family of alcoholics and he himself battled with it but still managed to hold down a job and educate two kids.

hold forth

Talk lengthily, assertively, or tediously about a subject: he was holding forth on the merits of the band’s debut album
More example sentences
  • Despite his insistence that his faith is a private matter, he has made it a public issue, and rarely misses an opportunity to hold forth on the subject.
  • They had been rigorously secular until one night when they attended a party and heard someone holding forth on the unlikely subject of hidden codes in the Torah.
  • For two days, women held forth on a subject long considered taboo.
speak at length, talk at length, go on, sound off;
declaim, spout, pontificate, orate, preach, sermonize
informal speechify, drone on, bloviate

hold off

(Of bad weather) fail to occur.
Example sentences
  • Luckily the rain held off until the last game was played.
  • Heavy rain and high winds held off until early Thursday night, when winds gusted to 84 kph.
  • Hopefully, if the weather holds off for a few more days that might dry the land out enough to allow us to collect the crop some time next week, but if not, then we might find ourselves stuck.
stay away, keep off, not come, delay
7.1Delay or postpone an action or decision.
Example sentences
  • The group agrees to hold off on any real decisions until replacements are hired.
  • In the end, the history of economic crises is clear on one important thing: the longer any economy holds off in facing its imbalances, the greater the possibility of a hard landing.
  • I was barely 18, just out of high school, had no real obligations in my life and I was enjoying the hell out of the freedom that holding off on college afforded me.

hold someone/something off

Resist an attacker or challenge: he held off a late challenge by Vose to win by thirteen seconds
More example sentences
  • With all his might he fought to hold her off.
  • Robert is having the challenge of his life trying to hold the other five off, but he is standing strong.
  • He pushed the men away and held them off until the police arrived and the attackers ran off.

hold on

1 [often in imperative] Wait; stop: hold on a minute, I’ll be right back!
More example sentences
  • It looks safe outside, but they're still telling us that the air is bad, so I'm holding on and waiting for a few days.
  • But hold on a minute - are we still talking about children's choices here, or our own?
  • But hold on a minute, he is having an affair with his secretary because he is famous?
wait, wait a minute, just a moment, just a second;
stay here, stay put;
informal just a sec, hang on, sit tight, hold your horses
2Endure or keep going in difficult circumstances: if only they could hold on a little longer
More example sentences
  • We discussed what makes certain people hold on in extreme circumstances.
  • Mark Potts was the club's sole representative in the under-15s race, holding on for a respectable 23rd position.
  • At the finish they were holding on for dear life and with St. Josephs coming at them in waves Bobby Miller must have been relieved to hear the final whistle.

hold on to

Keep: the industry is trying to hold on to experienced staff
More example sentences
  • He has four months to prove he is worth holding on to and in that time he hopes to hone his English as well as his football skills.
  • Despite holding on to two stars for the past two years, the hospital could not make it three in a row.
  • She is putting right what has gone wrong in her life and holding on to what is familiar.

hold out

Resist or survive in dangerous or difficult circumstances: Russian troops held out against constant attacks
More example sentences
  • The only place that held out against the revolution was the Winter Palace, the residence of the former Tsar.
  • He failed to capture Tobruk, and for over a year the isolated garrison held out against all attempts to take it.
  • What would be the value of a lone survivor, pointlessly holding out in a blighted, boarded-up street?
11.1Continue to be sufficient: we can stay here for as long as our supplies hold out
More example sentences
  • We're going to stay here as long as possible, as long as our food supply holds out.
  • She knew her crew was getting tired and restless, and the supplies wouldn't hold out forever.
  • The only thing to hope for was our emergency oxygen supply would hold out long enough for us to get to a lower altitude.
persist, last, remain;
persevere, continue

hold out for

Continue to demand (a particular thing), refusing to accept what has been offered: he is holding out for a guaranteed 7 percent raise
More example sentences
  • She accepted the money after being told she could lose it all if she continued holding out for more.
  • Some reports have said that university teachers are continuing to hold out for two months back pay.
  • He is holding out for more than the million pounds he has been offered to make the film.

hold out on

informal Refuse to give something, typically information, to (someone).
Example sentences
  • While the British held out on sharing information, it did build the Australian public a consolation prize, a nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights in Southern Sydney.
  • He's holding out on vital information that we trusted him with.
  • Was it wise for me to hold out on information like that?

hold something out

Offer a chance or hope: a new drug may hold out hope for patients with lung cancer
More example sentences
  • And that at least holds out the possibility that he'll stay - that he could be a winner in the future.
  • This nineteenth century green man holds out the prophetic possibility of restoration with nature, and in doing so reinforces our own sense of exile from it.
  • There is at present no cure: but the announcement last week that scientists are developing a potential vaccine, which is undergoing early clinical trials, holds out a ray of hope.

hold something over

1Postpone something.
Example sentences
  • A number of letters have been held over until next week.
  • The movie poll results have been held over until later in the week.
  • ‘It is possible maybe for one person to hold their funeral over maybe until Monday,’ said Fr O'Sullivan.
postpone, put off, put back, delay, defer, suspend, shelve, put over, table, take a rain check on
informal put on ice, put on the back burner, put in cold storage, mothball
2Use a fact or piece of information to threaten or intimidate (someone).
Example sentences
  • These are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that he can hold the threat over the head of anyone he chooses, in his own region or beyond.
  • If you think that you're holding some threat over my head, think again.
  • And also part of the purpose of that statutory provision is to hold a threat over people…

hold together (or hold something together)

Remain or cause to remain united: if your party holds together, you will probably win
More example sentences
  • As long as he remains in power he holds the country together and is a bulwark against enemies from outside.
  • She was also successful in holding her party together.
  • He is seen as the only politician really capable of holding the government together.

hold up

Remain strong or vigorous: the dollar held up well against the yen
More example sentences
  • The counting of postal votes shows 6,000 votes already cast with our vote holding up well.
  • At the last general election the Labour vote held up best in the party's marginal seats.
  • Whether it will hold up under the latest media onslaught remains to be seen.

hold someone/something up

1Support and prevent something from falling: concrete pillars hold up the elevated section of the railroad
More example sentences
  • The rooftop of the stables was a flat sheet of metal with wooden pillars to hold it up.
  • As we were heading down on the platform, we noticed the third monorail track above the platform was held up by column-like supports with ivy wrapped around it.
  • She realized one of the boards holding the mattress up had fallen.
support, bear, carry, take, keep up, prop up, shore up, buttress
2Display something by holding it above one’s waist or head: he held up the book so she could see the cover
More example sentences
  • Once on the plate smaller plates slide out to hold up the sleeves.
  • Some are just sitting picking away at their work, others standing holding up their latest creations.
  • Walking out I see Billie with a cheesey grin on holding up my crutches.
2.1Present or expose someone or something as an example or for particular treatment: they were held up to public ridicule
More example sentences
  • York will be held up to the rest of the world as an example of hope for the future of the planet.
  • The thing about broad generalizations made about a group of people is that if they are held up to scrutiny they are, more often than not, proved false at their very core.
  • No diplomat anywhere is likely to turn the other cheek if his president is held up to ridicule in a public forum.
3Delay or block the movement or progress of someone or something: our return flight was held up for seven hours
More example sentences
  • At Luxor airport seven flights were held up while two others were diverted to Cairo airport.
  • If there is a thunderstorm in Chicago, all the flights in New York are held up.
  • If I had been in that airport and my flight was held up because of these idiots, I would have cheered the police on as they arrested the couple.
4Rob someone or something using the threat of force or violence: a masked gunman held up the post office
More example sentences
  • Two months ago we were held up by a gunman and the next day people thought we had made it up as a publicity stunt.
  • In late September, three canoes carrying fishing supplies were held up by gunmen who seized all goods and abducted the 23 people on board.
  • Kids are under enormous pressure to collect the whole set and it seems they will do so even if it means stealing them or holding someone up at knifepoint.
informal stick up
5 Bridge Refrain from playing a winning card for tactical reasons.

hold with

[with negative] informal Approve of: I don’t hold with fighting or violence
More example sentences
  • And by the way, I hope this makes it clear that I do not hold with the idea that because a blogger accepted donations that he or she is required to answer to the donors.
  • He doesn't hold with the cynics who can't accept characters bursting into song at the drop of a hat.
  • He did not see it as making it any more or less difficult for him to be re-elected and did not hold with the argument that three-seat constituencies worked against smaller parties.



Example sentences
  • There are apparently two sorts of fishing licenses holdable by motor boats.
  • The holdable cursor feature permits an application to keep cursors open after implicit or explicit commits.
  • They are an excellent pair of binoculars for most hand holdable viewing.


Old English haldan, healdan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch houden and German halten; the noun is partly from Old Norse hald 'hold, support, custody'.

  • The ancient root of hold probably meant ‘to watch over’. Hold, ‘a large compartment in the lower part of a ship or aircraft’ has a different origin, is late 16th century and derives from hole (Old English) and is related to hollow (Old English), and possibly hull (Middle English). The phrase no holds barred, ‘with no rules or restrictions’, comes from the sport of wrestling. Certain holds, such as gripping round the throat, are banned as too dangerous. Sometimes, though, no-holds-barred contests would be set up where participants could do almost anything they liked.

Words that rhyme with hold

behold, bold, cold, enfold, fold, foretold, gold, mould (US mold), old, outsold, scold, self-controlled, sold, told, uncontrolled, undersold, unpolled, uphold, withhold, wold

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hold

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There are 2 main definitions of hold in English:

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hold 2

Pronunciation: /hōld/


A large space in the lower part of a ship or aircraft in which cargo is stowed.
Example sentences
  • Each unit costs a different amount and they also take up a certain amount of space in the cargo hold of the ship.
  • A final doorway led from the galley down to the cargo hold under the ship.
  • Some were given spaces in the vast holds of the ship, where they laid down to rest and were asleep in just a few minutes.


Late 16th century: from obsolete holl, from Old English hol (see hole). The addition of -d was due to association with hold1.

  • The ancient root of hold probably meant ‘to watch over’. Hold, ‘a large compartment in the lower part of a ship or aircraft’ has a different origin, is late 16th century and derives from hole (Old English) and is related to hollow (Old English), and possibly hull (Middle English). The phrase no holds barred, ‘with no rules or restrictions’, comes from the sport of wrestling. Certain holds, such as gripping round the throat, are banned as too dangerous. Sometimes, though, no-holds-barred contests would be set up where participants could do almost anything they liked.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hold

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