Definition of reserve in English:


Syllabification: re·serve
Pronunciation: /riˈzərv


[with object]
  • 1Refrain from using or disposing of (something); retain for future use: roll out half the dough and reserve the other half
    More example sentences
    • Then drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquor.
    • Strain, reserving the milk but discarding the garlic and thyme, and mash, adding the cream and milk until fluffy - you may not need all the milk.
    • Drain the pasta, reserving a small amount of the cooking water.
    put to one side, put aside, set aside, keep, keep back, save, hold, put on hold, keep in reserve, earmark
  • 1.1Arrange for (a room, seat, ticket, etc.) to be kept for the use of a particular person and not given to anyone else: a place was reserved for her in the front row
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    • Your table is always reserved in the dining room.
    • The closing date for season ticket holders to reserve their seats and get discounted tickets for the friendly match is tomorrow.
    • All seats with tables were reserved - although they seemed empty most of the night.
    book, make a reservation for, order, arrange for, secure, preorder
    formal bespeak
    dated engage
  • 1.2Retain or hold (an entitlement to something), especially by formal or legal stipulation: [with object and infinitive]: the editor reserves the right to edit letters
    More example sentences
    • By that, do you mean they're reserving the right or looking at taking legal action?
    • This is my web site, running on a server I own, using bandwidth I pay for, located in a nation which reserves the right of free speech for its citizens.
    • The raffle operator reserves his rights to use frequent flyer miles to pay for the round trip plane tickets.
    retain, maintain, keep, hold
  • 1.3Refrain from delivering (a judgment or decision) immediately or without due consideration or evidence: I’ll reserve my views on his ability until he’s played again
    More example sentences
    • He reserved his decision and delivered oral reasons for judgment on June 13.
    • The Judge reserved his final decision and has informed the newspaper that decision will be disclosed today.
    • He reserved his decision on withdrawing the warrants until close of business next Wednesday.
    defer, postpone, put off, delay, withhold
  • 1.4 (reserve something for) Use or engage in something only in or at (a particular circumstance or time): Japanese food has been presented as expensive and reserved for special occasions
    More example sentences
    • In Italy, celebrating with a meal isn't reserved for special occasions - it's a way of life.
    • I reserve those future modification strategies for my birthday.
    • Antibiotics are generally reserved for use in episodes of acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
  • 1.5(In church use) retain (a portion of the consecrated elements) after mass for communion of the sick or as a focus for devotion.
    More example sentences
    • Is not the cost of keeping our churches open, offering the liturgy, and reserving the Eucharist a price the Church can afford, no matter the monetary price?
    • Jesus is present in a very real and powerful way in every church that reserves the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.
    • If we reserve consecrated bread and wine and kneel before it, why should we not preserve the world with the same reverence?


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  • 1 (often reserves) A supply of a commodity not needed for immediate use but available if required: Australia has major coal, gas, and uranium reserves
    More example sentences
    • The government used to prop up prices by paying farmers to keep land fallow, setting floor prices for some commodities and building stock reserves.
    • If there is a serious disruption in supply, then those reserves will be tapped.
    • He says that while Australia has significant gas reserves, supplies from overseas will be needed in the future.
  • 1.1A force or body of troops kept back from action to reinforce or protect others, or additional to the regular forces and available in an emergency.
    More example sentences
    • During the war it housed the reserve troops who would protect the government from invading forces.
    • Those additional officers were provided from the force reserve which is available to ensure we have sufficient organisational flexibility to meet operational demands.
    • He then voluntarily developed and trained a reserve force of assorted Army troops trapped with the Marines.
  • 1.2A member of the military reserve.
    More example sentences
    • Attendance allowance is paid to assist a member of the reserves with travel expenses when required to attend a specified place within Australia to render reserve service.
    • If you're a member of the reserves or National Guard, you may be eligible for a new tax deduction this year.
    • Under the U.S. legislation, service with the armed forces is in two periods: the regular forces and the reserve forces.
    reinforcements, the militia, extras, auxiliaries
  • 1.3An extra player who is a possible substitute in a team.
    More example sentences
    • Presently, the reserve team has 11 players under age 21 including seven high school players.
    • It also makes sure the reserve team isn't over-burdened with senior players keeping youngsters out.
    • He progressed to the reserve team and has played senior rugby with the club for the past four seasons.
    backup, substitute, stand-in, relief, replacement, fallback, spare, extra
  • 1.4 (the reserves) The second-string team.
    More example sentences
    • You have to knuckle down and get on with it, as there were times when I would be the most senior professional playing in the reserves after travelling with the first team and not being involved.
    • Whilst I have been patient during the last two years it has become very repetitive playing in the reserves and I needed to play to prove to myself that I was capable of performing at that level.
    • Only a fool would put a player of his quality in the reserves for two seasons and his manager is no fool.
  • 1.5Funds kept available by a bank, company, or government: the foreign exchange reserves
    More example sentences
    • The gold would then constitute those banks' reserves for their demand deposits.
    • Not all central banks, however, require commercial banks to deposit reserves.
    • A balance of payments deficit or surplus was defined by the sign of the rate of change of a central bank's foreign exchange reserves.
  • 1.6A part of a company’s profits added to capital rather than paid as a dividend.
    More example sentences
    • As such, this inclusion of the cash reserves can actually overstate capital and reduce ROCE.
    • In some cases though, the costs charged against profit reserves will impact upon the company's ability to pay dividends.
    • This would see earnings per share fall to a level where the company would have to dip into reserves to pay the dividend at its current level.
  • 2A place set aside for special use, in particular.
    More example sentences
    • There are areas where land has been put aside for reserves but are now being used for different things.
    • The reserve contains the remains of an apple and damson orchard.
    • Almost before anyone knew about it, the company was pumping a half million gallons of water a day from an aquifer beneath a hunting reserve.
  • 2.1An area designated as a habitat for an indigenous people.
    More example sentences
    • Pursuing missionary work among the Aborigines, he established a native reserve at Poonindie, near Port Lincoln in SA.
    • However, they were greeted by a two-kilometre roadblock of residents from Quebec, New Brunswick and the nearby native reserves.
    • The cigarettes were then allegedly sold to smugglers and brought illegally into Canada through native reserves and border checkpoints.
  • 2.2A protected area for wildlife.
    More example sentences
    • Tanzania is almost four times the size of the UK, and 25 per cent of its land mass is protected in national parks, game reserves or conservation areas.
    • Kenya has over 50 national parks and game reserves where wildlife is protected.
    • He looks after the land as a private reserve for wildlife habitat, running marsupials and their predators instead of cows.
    national park, sanctuary, preserve, conservation area, protected area, wildlife park
  • 3A lack of warmth or openness in manner or expression: she smiled and some of her natural reserve melted
    More example sentences
    • Due to the after-effects of sun and a bottle of Sancerre, my usual British reserve was sadly lacking.
    • However, his plans may be derailed by a combination of intrinsically British factors: natural reserve and a reluctance to get up early in the morning.
    • Only Mrs. Martin and her two daughters were present, and just when their caution and reserve were starting to melt, it was time to leave.
  • 3.1Qualification or doubt attached to some statement or claim: she trusted him without reserve
    More example sentences
    • Two game systems from my first article in this series qualify as board game systems without reserve: Orion and the piecepack.
    • The presidential elections, however, showed that public opinion polls and sociologists are not to be trusted without reserve.
    • The new leadership accepted his recommendations without reserve.
    reservation, qualification, condition, limitation, hesitation, doubt
  • 4 short for reserve price.
    More example sentences
    • No reserve has been set although a price in excess of £3.5 million is expected when the pub is auctioned on November 8.
    • Many of the lots will be sold without reserve, and the bulk of the paintings carry estimates of between €500 and €3,000.
    • The reserve has been set at less than half of the retail cost of this bike.
  • 5(In the decoration of ceramics or textiles) an area that still has the original color of the material or the color of the background.
    More example sentences
    • Penwork decoration, with designs in reserves on a black background, may itself have first developed within the Tunbridge ware industry.
    • The tops of these pieces were usually decorated with designs and reserves.
    • Penwork decoration, with designs in reserves on a black background, may itself have first developed within the Tunbridge ware industry.


in reserve

Unused and available if required: the platoon that had been kept in reserve
More example sentences
  • We have enough foodgrain in reserve to meet the requirements of one billion citizens.
  • Having so many spare cars in reserve is one reason the crew doesn't feel stressed at the track.
  • He said water affairs was managing water supply in a cycle that extended into next year, and wanted to keep some water in reserve.
available, on hand, ready, in readiness, set aside, at one's disposal



More example sentences
  • The conductor sold us ‘one-ways’ to Egton Bridge and said the line was sometimes busy on a Sunday and quite popular with walkers but seats were not reservable.
  • About two thirds of this turnover is generated by mail services, including the reservable area.
  • It put in generic, reservable rooms with rolling file cabinets, height-adjustable furniture, plug-and-go network wiring and other services.


More example sentences
  • These names may not be used without the consent of the reserver.
  • Reserved books on long loan are recalled by Library staff on behalf of the reserver - the borrower is given one week to return the item.
  • If requested, or if the reservation is made within a week of entry, the permit can be sent to the ranger station chosen by the reserver.


Middle English: from Old French reserver, from Latin reservare 'keep back', from re- 'back' + servare 'to keep'.

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