Definition of keep in English:

keep

Line breaks: keep
Pronunciation: /kiːp
 
/

verb (past and past participle kept /kɛpt/)

[with object]
1Have or retain possession of: my father would keep the best for himself she had trouble keeping her balance
More example sentences
  • I had trouble keeping my balance because I had an open soda pop can in my hands so I had to go slower.
  • He is having trouble keeping his charges' attention while she bobs and weaves in the background.
  • The office has also had trouble keeping multicultural admissions officers more than two years.
1.1Retain or reserve for future use: return one copy to me, keeping the other for your files
More example sentences
  • It seems people love to hoard them and keep them for the future.
  • She added that the 150000 that was set aside in the estimates should be kept in reserve for phase two.
  • Some messages are important and need to be kept for future reference.
Synonyms
retain, hold on to, keep for oneself, retain possession of, keep possession of, retain in one's possession, keep hold of, not part with, hold fast to, hold back; save, store, store up, save up, hoard, put by, put aside, lay aside, set aside, reserve, keep in reserve, lay down; collect, accumulate, amass, pile up, stockpile, garner; North Americanset something by
1.2Put or store in a regular place: the stand where her umbrella was kept
More example sentences
  • Frustratingly for the family it was the first time they had stored the bikes inside the shed after previously keeping them inside the house.
  • The other guys in your unit keep pinching your bike for odd jobs throughout the day, and you wouldn't mind keeping it stored underneath a desk.
  • A second briefcase was kept under the White House in a secret bunker in case of nuclear attack.
Synonyms
store, house, stow, keep a place for, put away, place, put, deposit, stack, pile
2Continue or cause to continue in a specified condition, position, course, etc. [no object, with complement]: I kept quiet while Emily talked on keep left along the wall [with object and complement]: she might be kept alive artificially by machinery
More example sentences
  • His condition became so bad he had to be kept alive on a ventilator.
  • The continuing cold weather has kept mildew levels very low.
  • The miracle of modern medicine may keep a loved one alive despite a terminal condition.
Synonyms
remain, continue to be, stay, carry on being, go on being, persist in being, not cease to be
2.1 [no object, with present participle] Continue doing or do repeatedly: he keeps going on about the murder
More example sentences
  • As I pulled up in the car park, a wasp launched itself at the windscreen and kept repeatedly battering itself against the glass.
  • Like a gramophone stuck on a groove, he kept asking me why Wen shouted at him.
  • There was an adorable little boy living next door to us, who would keep saying hello repeatedly until we said hello back.
Synonyms
persist in, go on, keep on, carry on, continue, do something constantly, do something incessantly, do something continually, not stop doing something, persevere
2.2 [no object] (Of a perishable commodity) remain in good condition: hominy will keep almost indefinitely without spoilage
More example sentences
  • This product does not keep, and is mainly produced in the autumn and winter.
  • The nice thing about ginger is that it keeps well.
  • Pasta will keep for months in the cupboard.
2.3 [with object] Retain one’s place in or on (a seat or saddle, the ground, etc.) in spite of difficulty: can you keep your saddle, or shall I carry you on a pillion?
More example sentences
  • Deirdre kept her ground and the clashing of metal against metal was heard as she blocked his attack.
  • Tamora kept her seat, one hand free to wield her sword with unnervingly good aim.
  • She swayed from side to side upon the animal's broad back, and her ruddy face was redder than usual with the effort of keeping her seat.
2.4 [no object, with adverbial] chiefly British Be in a specified state of health: he had not been keeping well
More example sentences
  • For a man who spends so much time in the gym and out on the golf course, he contrives to keep remarkably poor health.
  • My mother did not keep very good health, so we had a charwoman who came in to do the cleaning.
  • We have all been keeping well.
2.5 [with object] Cause to be late; delay: I won’t keep you, I know you’ve got a busy evening
More example sentences
  • You must be quick, and not keep me long.
  • ‘I don't want to keep you,’ she apologized. ‘Guess you'd best get outside.’
  • She smiled graciously and said, ‘I mustn't keep you’ and she was gone.
Synonyms
detain, cause to stay, cause to wait, keep waiting, keep back, hold back, restrain; delay, hold up, retard, make late, set back, slow down, slow up, hinder, obstruct, check, impede, block, hamper, constrain
2.6 [with object and present participle] Make (someone) do something for a period of time: I have kept her waiting too long
More example sentences
  • She kept me waiting for what felt like an eternity but was probably about 15/20 minutes.
  • You may have guessed that this is not the first time that he kept me waiting.
  • That might not have mattered, except that they kept me waiting for about 20 minutes.
2.7 archaic Continue to follow (a path or course): the soldiers removed, keeping their course towards Jericho
More example sentences
  • Our protection was speed and keeping a zig-zag course.
  • They kept the track, and rolled off mile after mile before daylight in an effort to catch up to the leaders.
  • Keeping their course on the north side of the lake until they reached its head, they started up the mountain.
3Provide for the sustenance of (someone): he had to keep his large family in the manner he had chosen
More example sentences
  • All the families of the O'Reilly's Club kept a player each in their home, cooked for them and looked after them well.
  • It describes a man who has done everything he possibly can to save his job and keep his family in the way that they have expected to live.
  • Mrs. Brown had been unable to keep her children and had given her two little girls away.
Synonyms
provide for, support, provide food for, provide sustenance for, provide board for, feed, keep alive, maintain, sustain, subsidize, finance; take care of, look after, nurture, nourish
3.1Provide (someone) with a regular supply of a commodity: the money should keep him in cigarettes for a week
More example sentences
  • But, above all, it has kept me supplied with the materials essential to my trade as a historian.
  • I can only hope she was kept well supplied with all the little comforts she missed.
  • We always planted a ridge of turnips and a ridge of cabbage to keep us supplied with vegetables.
3.2Own and look after (an animal) for pleasure or profit: they raised pigs and kept a pony or two
More example sentences
  • Twenty or so acres can be useful for keeping horses or ponies and does carry a certain prestige.
  • It is an active farm which keeps sheep, goats and pigs and produces cork and honey.
  • The animal bones indicated that large quantities of sheep were kept, with some cattle and pig.
Synonyms
breed, rear, raise, farm; own, have as a pet, keep as a pet, look after, tend
3.3Own and manage (a shop or business): the big fellow keeps a fish shop near the post office
More example sentences
  • Little Nell Trent lives in the gloomy atmosphere of the old curiosity shop kept by her grandfather, whom she tends with devotion.
  • Jeremy had often told her that her father had been a merchant who kept shop near the barracks.
  • Roger, of course, would rather take care of her and keep the shop, but puts on a cheerful face.
Synonyms
manage, run, own, be the proprietor of, be in charge of, administer, organize, direct, keep up, maintain, operate, look after, superintend
3.4Guard; protect: his only thought is to keep the boy from harm
More example sentences
  • We would do anything to keep them from danger.
  • Traditional values are so perverted by slavery that Sethe is driven to murder her own daughter to keep her from slavery's horrors.
  • You gave him a good life and kept him from pain.
Synonyms
tend, look after, care for, take care of, mind, watch over, have charge of, be responsible for; protect, keep safe, keep from harm, preserve, defend, guard, shield, shelter, safeguard, savepreserve, protect, keep safe, afford protection to, guard, shield, shelter, save, safeguard, secure, defend
3.5Support (someone, especially a woman) financially in return for sexual favours: he was keeping a woman on the side
More example sentences
  • He kept another woman, by whom he had two children.
  • He was a clever sociopath who owned three properties and kept different women at each.
  • At one stage she was told no woman editor in London would touch her novel with a barge pole because it was so unfashionable to have a story about a kept woman.
4Honour or fulfil (a commitment or undertaking): I’ll keep my promise, naturally
More example sentences
  • ‘This is about keeping a commitment, delivering promises and being true to our convictions,’ he said.
  • However, if he also keeps the commitment to buy new helicopters from Eurocopter, this will mean that in a couple of years Bulgaria will have 36 machines.
  • It also results from engineers being conscientious people who are serious about keeping their commitments.
Synonyms
comply with, obey, respect, observe, conform to, abide by, stick to, act in accordance with, act according to, have regard to, heed, follow, pay attention to, defer to, take notice of; fulfil, carry out, act on, make good, be bound by, honour, keep to, redeem, keep faith with, stand by, adhere to; execute, discharge, perform
4.1Observe (a religious occasion) in the prescribed manner: today’s consumers do not keep the Sabbath
More example sentences
  • They were once so numerous that the town kept the feast of St Crispin on October 25, patron saint of cobblers.
  • Not once in the New Testament are we told to keep the Sabbath.
  • Some kept all the Holy Days and some kept only Passover.
Synonyms
observe, respect, honour, hold sacred, recognize, acknowledge; celebrate, mark, solemnize, ritualize, ceremonialize, commemorate
4.2Pay due regard to (a law or custom): if you kept small rules, you could break the big ones
More example sentences
  • Every week religious Jews observe the Sabbath, the Jewish holy day, and keep its laws and customs.
  • Such a man obeys my commands and carefully keeps my laws.
  • Our experience in Ireland is that the only thing that really works in terms of drivers keeping the law is fear.
5Make written entries in (a diary) on a regular basis: the master kept a weekly journal
More example sentences
  • Nicole used the site to write poems and kept a diary of her treatment there.
  • As a kid, or as a grown up, did you keep a diary writing up what you did everyday?
  • She also writes poetry and has kept a diary since she was 9 years-old.
5.1Write down as (a record): keep a note of each item
More example sentences
  • Most of my novels were written while I was in full-time employment, and I kept records of the amount of time I spent on them.
  • During this era, people tended to write everything down and keep accurate records of events.
  • She still keeps records charting every penny she spends and she is worried.

noun

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1 [mass noun] Food, clothes, and other essentials for living: the Society are paying for your keep
More example sentences
  • They had their pay and their keep and were given a quarter of a sheep to take home to feed their families.
  • People like us who did without to own our house as a legacy for our children have our home taken off us if we have to go into care to pay for our keep.
  • Occasionally. in those days, some would be paid a wage but mostly they would work for their keep and a little pocket money.
Synonyms
maintenance, upkeep, support, sustenance, subsistence, board, board and lodging, food, nourishment, nurture; living, livelihood, means
1.1The cost of the essentials for living.
More example sentences
  • Once upon a time we may have been loss leaders; but now, we are expected to earn our keep.
  • Even Web sites with a noble mission to restore a sense of community now have to earn their keep.
  • He organizes his charges to defuse land mines in order to earn their keep.
2 [mass noun] archaic Charge; control: if from shepherd’s keep a lamb strayed far
More example sentences
  • I was filled with gratitude that these beautiful children are in my keep.
3The strongest or central tower of a castle, acting as a final refuge.
More example sentences
  • Even the gateways leading into old keeps and castles don't escape the over-enthusiasm of some amateur restorers.
  • Whereas motte and bailey castles were surrounded by a wooden fence, the stone keeps could rely on outer walls made of stone (curtain walls).
  • In a few places great stone keeps were begun, best known of which is the Tower of London.
Synonyms
fortress, fort, stronghold, tower, donjon, castle, citadel, bastion, fortification, fastness
archaic hold, dungeon

Origin

late Old English cēpan 'seize, take in', also 'care for, attend to', of unknown origin.

Phrases

you can't keep a good man (or woman) down

informal A competent person will always recover well from setbacks.
More example sentences
  • Like they say, you can't keep a good man down and the cream always rises to the top.
  • There's an age old adage however that says you can't keep a good man down, and while even some of his closest allies feared that defeat would end his career in public life Oliver Coffey had other ideas.
  • He had a bad day at the office on Monday, but you can't keep a good man down for long.

for keeps

informal Permanently; indefinitely: they’ll have to give us the trophy for keeps if we win it again
More example sentences
  • It's symptomatic of this disposable mentality society where nothing's for keeps and everything can be changed.
  • I was tempted to ask if she'd like to stay for keeps.
  • But once the final payment has gone, the car is yours for keeps.
Synonyms
forever, for ever, for all time, for ever and ever, for always, once and for all, for good, for good and all, permanently, in perpetuity; North Americanforevermore
informal until kingdom come, until hell freezes over, until doomsday
archaic for aye

keep one's feet

Manage not to fall: on the planked railway crossing she stumbled, but kept her feet
More example sentences
  • Unable to keep his feet, he fell backward, into the icy cold water of the bay.
  • He managed to keep his feet for a few seconds, then tumbled forward into the dirt.
  • She almost tripped over herself, but managed to keep her feet.

keep goal

chiefly Soccer Act as a goalkeeper.
More example sentences
  • As a young keeper with Preston he was earmarked as one of the brightest prospects outside the Premiership with one national magazine going as far as predicting that he would be keeping goal for England at the 2008 World Cup.
  • Project manager for the event, Nick Lodge, put his football skills to the test by keeping goal in a penalty shoot-out.
  • The former pupil of St Christopher's High School, Accrington, has won scholarships to play in America and now keeps goal for Everton FC.

keep going

Make an effort to live normally in spite of difficulty: she had to keep going for the sake of her boys
More example sentences
  • It definitely gives us the confident start we need to keep going and continue to be healthy.
  • Through all of this he kept going and now the new school is ready to open.
  • He kept going through decidedly lean periods by remaining true to himself as a player and a person.

keep to oneself

Avoid contact with others: they kept to themselves and were a source of mystery and speculation
More example sentences
  • Hidden from civilisation and resisting all attempts at contact, they had kept to themselves.
  • I had the attacks several times a month and tried desperately to prevent them by keeping to myself and avoiding any social situations.
  • They have been avoiding the whole Los Angeles scene, preferring to keep to themselves.

keep something to oneself

Refuse to disclose or share something: he was determined to keep the information to himself
More example sentences
  • Rachael kept the dream to herself and never shared it with anyone.
  • Until recently, the common practice of governments was still to keep all information to themselves.
  • I think our intelligence officers have the information but they keep it to themselves.

keep up with the Joneses

see Joneses.
More example sentences
  • People don't need to replace their car on a regular basis except for the purpose of keeping up with the Joneses.
  • To many folks, filling the home with more stuff or keeping up with the Joneses is no longer appealing.
  • Too many clients are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Phrasal verbs

keep at (or keep someone at)

Persist (or force someone to persist) with: it was the best part of a day’s work but I kept at it
More example sentences
  • I think they're all very smart people, that are very good at something a lot of people can't even comprehend, and I think that kind of drive keeps them at what they do.
  • He was dedicated, and he was focused, and he kept at it year after year after year.
  • The job would get done, if we kept at it.
Synonyms
persevere with, persist with, be persistent in, keep going with, keep on at, be pertinacious in, show determination in, be resolute in, be steadfast in, not give up, not cease from, not falter in, carry on with, press on with, work away at, continue with, see through, struggle on with
informal stick at, soldier on with, slave away at, peg away at, plug away at, hammer away at, bash on with, plough through

keep away (or keep someone away)

Stay away (or make someone stay away): keep away from the edge of the cliff
More example sentences
  • It's hard enough to try to raise your kids right and keep them away from drugs without someone slipping this into my kids' daily round of subliminal nudging.
  • Shopping online or by mail order keeps you away from some of the holiday's most aggravating situations - crowded stores and streets.
  • The fact is, you were kept away from the public for two years.

keep back (or keep someone/thing back)

Remain (or cause someone or something to remain) at a distance: he had kept back from the river when he could
More example sentences
  • Police cordoned off the area to keep people back and the bus station remained closed following the accident.
  • The water had risen too high, and the levees just were not strong enough to keep it back.
  • He tried to get in again, covering his face with a T-shirt, but again the flames kept him back.

keep someone back

North American Make a pupil repeat a year at school because of poor marks: she had been kept back a year
More example sentences
  • His sister, also a sophomore (because she had been kept back in grade school), has a 3.6 GPA and is a leader in her Bible-studies group.
  • Authority's remedy, if you spent too much time out of the stream in one year, was to keep you back a class.
  • I have had many students who have been kept back a year, and they have had great success.

keep something back

Retain or withhold something: he kept back £5 for himself
More example sentences
  • Although this was the amount of rations laid down by law some of the shady crews often kept back food for to sell when they reached shore.
  • Emergency services made arrangements with garages for supplies to be kept back specially for their vehicles.
  • So far everything we've kept back will have a place in the next house, even if only once a year, like Christmas decorations.
Decline to disclose something: she might be willing to give me the details she had kept back from Ann
More example sentences
  • I've kept this post back for a long time and altered a few key details, just in case my employers think they can identify us and use this blog as a stick with which to beat me.
  • Sorry mum, every daughter keeps a few things back y'know…
  • You know, you have to watch the behaviors, too, and see if they seem to be keeping something back.
Synonyms
conceal, keep secret, keep hidden, hide, withhold, suppress, keep quiet about, not tell, not reveal, not divulge, hush up

keep down

Stay hidden by crouching or lying down: Keep down! There’s someone coming
More example sentences
  • The building was full of smoke, so I held my breath, kept down low and squirted the contents of the extinguisher.
  • ‘Keep down, and don't even breathe!’ I whispered.
  • As we neared the shore we were ordered to keep down to avoid getting wounded should the enemy start shelling the incoming craft.

keep someone down

1Make a pupil repeat a year at school because of poor marks: is a child who fails a year test to be kept down?
More example sentences
  • It is extended to students somewhat forcibly, to attend morning school during the long vacation to avoid being kept down the following year.
  • Unfortunately, by comparison with the other students, I was quite backward, and so bad at mathematics in particular that I was kept down an entire year.
  • I was that disruptive in class that they kept me down a level.
2Cause someone to remain in a state of oppression or subjection: one day, it would be impossible that fine people like Philip would be kept down
More example sentences
  • Even an investigation by the Inland Revenue's special compliance unit and a brain tumour could not keep him down.
  • He was out there to prove that nothing was going to keep him down and full credit to him.
  • Work is shown as unremitting drudgery, keeping us down and continually reminding us of our essential failure.

keep something down

1Cause something to remain at a low level: the population of aphids is normally kept down by other animals
More example sentences
  • They had kept the noise down to an acceptable level.
  • Like all the other high street retailers it was striving to cut costs to keep prices down and remain competitive.
  • They want flexible design, but staff costs kept down.
2Retain food or drink in one’s stomach without vomiting: all I could keep down was water
More example sentences
  • Mild nausea and occasional vomiting aren't a threat to your baby's health as long as you're able to keep some food down and drink plenty of fluids.
  • He was thirsty, but couldn't keep the water down after he drank it.
  • I can feel his upper body tense up as he's fighting to keep the food down, and pass him a glass of water.

keep from (or keep someone from)

Avoid (or cause someone to avoid) doing something: Dinah bit her lips to keep from screaming
More example sentences
  • Avoiding the person will keep you from reinforcing the feelings you have toward them.
  • I can't recall ever actually watching a sunrise, and I guess technically I didn't see one yesterday since the rain clouds kept us from actually seeing the sun at all.
  • Health problems kept him from traveling.
Synonyms
refrain from, stop oneself, restrain oneself from, prevent oneself from, manage not to, forbear from, resist the temptation to, forgo, avoidprevent, stop, hinder, impede, hamper; restrain, check, curb, hold back, halt

keep something from

1Cause something to remain a secret from (someone): now you know what your mother tried to keep from you
More example sentences
  • I had no idea what he had in mind and everyone kept the secret from me.
  • He kept the secret from his family until the final show was broadcast.
  • Most teens/pre-teens spend a great deal of time keeping secrets from their parents.
Synonyms
keep secret, keep hidden, hide, conceal, withhold, hush up, not tell, suppress, censor, redact
informal keep dark, not breathe a word of
2Cause something to stay out of: she could not keep the dismay from her voice
More example sentences
  • Dirk spoke haltingly, trying to keep the unfettered emotion from his voice.
  • Francesca nodded slowly, trying desperately to keep the laughter from her voice.
  • Em was hard pressed to keep the grin from her face as she watched him go.

keep in with

Remain on good terms with (someone): he was simply trying to keep in with his friends
More example sentences
  • She would always be very decent to you, and would keep in with all the right people politically, but you always ended up wondering how much you could trust her.
  • I have an RNLI Mastercard - they are important people to keep in with if you live somewhere that you can only get to by boat.
  • Rebecca is a meek young girl who tries to keep in with all her colleagues.

keep someone in

Confine someone indoors or in a particular place: he should be kept in overnight for observation
More example sentences
  • An ambulance took the child to the hospital, where she was kept in for observation overnight.
  • They were worried that he might have damaged a joint so wanted to keep him in overnight.
  • The doctors decided to keep him in overnight because they were worried about the injury to his eye.

keep something in

Restrain oneself from expressing a feeling: he wanted to make me mad, but I kept it all in
More example sentences
  • My mother used booze and drugs to deal with her anger and my father kept his anger in.
  • I keep my sadness in, when it probably would feel better to get it out.
  • Usually, I can manage to keep it all in. At most, I’ll let a few tears trickle down my cheeks.

keep off

1Avoid encroaching on or touching: you don’t have to keep off land during the stalking season
More example sentences
  • All this time farmers have been ranting at walkers about keeping off their land: and here they are, not even cleaning their own farm vehicles properly.
  • Ready Mix Concrete, which owns Chigborough Lakes, near Drapers Lane, has put up signs advising people to keep off land close to the lakes near Drapers Farm.
  • We must promote football by keeping off the grass and not trampling on ethics.
Synonyms
stay off, not enter, keep away from, stay away from, not trespass on, remain at a distance from, not go near
1.1Avoid consuming or smoking: the first thing was to keep off alcohol
More example sentences
  • He told her: ‘If you have kept off alcohol, not committed any offences and complied with the services, the worst that will happen to you will be a probation order.’
  • She has kept off alcohol, except for one slip, and that is a great achievement for someone who has suffered alcohol abuse problems for many years.
  • He added: ‘I gave up smoking last May and decided I needed an incentive to keep off the ciggies and took up running.’
Synonyms
abstain from, go without, do without, renounce, refrain from, give up, forgo, forswear, resist, turn aside from, swear off, not touch
informal quit
1.2Avoid (a subject): they kept off delicate subjects like sexism
More example sentences
  • As a result, the government is now taking a circuitous route and trying to avoid those controversial subjects by keeping off the topic or delaying the discussions.
  • They tried to keep off the subject of Hunter's mother by talking about the exam and what they were going to do on Saturday for Halloween but it was difficult.
  • He would goof off, smile, horse around, do anything to keep off the subject, but I could tell.
Synonyms
avoid, steer clear of, stay away from, shun, evade, skirt round, sidestep, dodge, pass over, bypass
informal duck
2(Of bad weather) fail to occur: the rain kept off until we boarded our coach
More example sentences
  • The rain kept off and the day went really well.
  • And the rain did keep off… indeed for most of the week the rain kept off.
  • ‘I just hope that the rain is going to keep off,’ she said.
Synonyms
stay away, hold off, not start, not begin, not come, not happen

keep someone/thing off

Prevent someone or something from encroaching on or touching: keep your hands off me
More example sentences
  • Large vans and lorries are kept off by a concrete and bollard bottleneck barrier.
  • I used to walk up and down the aisle passing sweets along the rows and making sure they kept their feet off the seats.
  • It keeps kids off the streets and gives them a bit of exercise.

keep someone off

Prevent someone from attending (school): how long should children be kept off school for mumps?
More example sentences
  • She has now kept James off school for seven weeks and is trying to get him into a new school.
  • In these cases parents were advised that their children should be in school and it is an offence to keep them off without good reason.
  • My mum found out and kept me off school for 2 weeks as she could not get an appointment with the headmaster.

keep on

Continue to do something: he kept on moving
More example sentences
  • I kept on waiting until my tummy began to complain and then I shucked on my coat and went out to investigate.
  • I have always been a bit slow on the uptake, and I just kept on looking at the board and waiting for it to make sense.
  • I thought it odd that he kept on going into the soft dunes and not on the harder sand near the water.
Synonyms
continue, go on, carry on, persist in, persevere in, keep going with; soldier on, struggle on, see something through

keep on about

Speak about (something) repeatedly: they kept on about negotiating an end to the war
More example sentences
  • The preamble kept on about how many Stop the War demonstrations there had been in Trafalgar Square, unquestionably assuming that all right-thinking people would be of the same opinion.
  • That old man kept on about how the Puerto Ricans were coming around ruining his neighborhood, he had no idea that his real enemy was me.
  • I still haven't checked my cupboards for this damn contaminated food my Mother keeps on about.
Synonyms
talk constantly, talk endlessly, talk repeatedly, keep talking, go on, go on talking, go on and on, dwell on the subject, refer to repeatedly, repeat oneself, ramble on, rant on
informal harp on, witter on, rabbit on

keep on at

British Annoy (someone) by making frequent requests: he’d kept on at her, wanting her to go out with him
More example sentences
  • His wife kept on at him to get rid of it, so he did the next best thing and buried the bike, sidecar and all.
  • We need to keep on at people to encourage them to remember to be responsible.
  • We just keep on at them until they get fed up and do something.
Synonyms
nag, go on at, keep at, harp on at, badger, chivvy, harass, hound, bully, pester, scold
informal hassle
North American informal ride

keep someone/thing on

Continue to use or employ someone or something: am I legally obliged to keep on the insurance?
More example sentences
  • Only 31 people have been kept on, to continue with its manufacturing operations until a new owner is found.
  • In industries that were not heavily unionised, however, some women were kept on - not least because they were cheaper to employ than men.
  • The worker who lost his job said: ‘In January we were all assessed as to whether we would be kept on by the company - in effect reapplying for our jobs.’
Synonyms
continue to employ, keep employing, carry on employing, retain in one's service, not dismiss, not sack, keep in one's employ, retain the services of

keep out (or keep someone/thing out)

Remain (or cause someone or something to remain) outside: cover with cheesecloth to keep out flies
More example sentences
  • Do we (the paying spectator) have to pay for yet another fence to keep us out of an area that we previously had access to?
  • When the gang threatened to park their caravans in the car park until they were paid, Mr Coates and members of the church put up a fence to keep them out.
  • Even the parts that are fenced don't keep them out all the time.

keep to

Avoid leaving (a path, road, or place): I didn’t have his faith in the traffic, so I kept to the edge of the kerb
More example sentences
  • She made up her mind that if she went one way, keeping to a straight path, she would eventually find the edge of the forest.
  • Mr Timm added that followers were permitted to meet the hunt wherever they came from, as long as they kept to the roads and did not stray on to the surrounding fields.
  • And off I sailed, keeping to the main road which was quite dry, and well salted.
Synonyms
follow, follow closely, stick to, stay on
Adhere to (a schedule): the administration has kept to a tight timetable
More example sentences
  • The secret of keeping to an exercise schedule is to make it enjoyable and this man sure knows how to do it.
  • It is impossible to keep to any kind of schedule.
  • I kept to a regular schedule as much as possible, leaving myself the morning hours to get what I needed to do done and going to bed in the late afternoon.
Observe (a promise): she was anxious to keep to her resolve to lay before him all the facts
More example sentences
  • We could be crucial in scrutinising whether the government keeps to its promises about reconstruction.
  • We are trying to ensure Lincolnshire officials keep to that Government promise.
  • I have managed to keep to my promise to get back to the gym.
Synonyms
obey, abide by, observe, follow, comply with, adhere to, act in accordance with, conform to, be governed by, respect, defer to; honour, keep, fulfil, act on, stand by, stick to, be bound by, be true to, keep faith with, make good, carry out
Confine or restrict oneself to: nothing is more irritating than people who do not keep to the point
More example sentences
  • Although now I drank a wide range of fluids I still kept to the restricted salad, fruit and lean food diet.
  • Instead, the vast majority of people who drive sensibly and keep to speed limits will have to live with ridiculous restrictions and longer queues as a result.
  • Ensure that topics of conversation are kept to literary or academic subjects.
Synonyms
stick to, restrict oneself to, confine oneself to

keep someone under

Cause someone to remain in a state of oppression or subjection: the local people are kept under by the army
More example sentences
  • Hungary was then regarded at Vienna as a conquered realm, whose naturally rebellious inhabitants could only be kept under by force of arms.
  • the true church is very much kept under by its enemies.
  • Before that time comes, he will have conquered our kingdom and our people and our cities, and kept them under by force of arms for many years.
Synonyms
keep in subjection, keep in submission, hold down, keep down, keep under one's thumb, subdue, subject, suppress, repress, oppress, tyrannize over, tyrannize
informal squash, squelch, trample on

keep up (also keep up with)

1Move or progress at the same rate as someone or something else: often they had to pause to allow him to keep up
More example sentences
  • The level of funding increase that has been provided for schools and early childhood centres has not even kept up with the rate of inflation.
  • During the same period the typical investor lost 10 percent of his or her portfolio and workers' wages barely kept up with the rate of inflation.
  • This ensured that state pensions kept up with the rate at which salaries were rising.
Synonyms
keep pace, keep abreastkeep pace with, keep abreast of; rival, challenge, compete with, vie with, match, touch, equal
2Meet a commitment to pay or do something regularly: if you do not keep up with the payments, the loan company can make you sell your home
More example sentences
  • It encourages my child to attend college regularly and punctually and keep up with the course work.
  • According to the National Consumer Council, about six million families are already struggling to keep up with credit commitments at a time when borrowing is rising.
  • Janny felt healthier and had enough energy to keep up with her commitments.

keep up with

Learn about or be aware of (current events or developments): even though he’s been travelling, he’s kept up with what’s going on back home
More example sentences
  • I keep up with news and current events, and love interacting with people in new situations.
  • In order to keep up with current events throughout the world, I watch the news in the morning.
  • Somewhere along the way he admits that he became disillusioned with the art world and, though he keeps up with its developments, he has not lifted a paintbrush in years.
Synonyms
keep informed about, keep up to date with, keep in touch with, not lose track of, keep abreast of, keep an eye on, learn about, retain an interest in
Continue to be in contact with (someone): they had kept up with him by means of Xmas cards
More example sentences
  • They each spend about seven to 10 hours a week keeping up with all of their contacts.
  • It was very interesting to see how people were doing, but there were no surprise recognitions of people I should really have kept up with and haven't.
  • We were loved and cherished by the most extraordinary teachers, whom I actually kept up with in later life.
Synonyms
remain in contact with, stay in touch with, maintain contact with, remain in correspondence with, remain in communication with, keep up one's friendship with, remain acquainted with

keep someone up

Prevent someone from going to bed or to sleep: the drugs kept her up all night hallucinating
More example sentences
  • My mom says I slept all day and kept her up at nights.
  • Try as I might, once again the noise kept me up and I couldn't sleep.
  • I can't even remember all the classes I slept through because you kept me up all night.

keep something up

Continue a course of action: keep up the good work
More example sentences
  • So as long as this egoistic propaganda is kept up, India will continue to get the better of any encounters in the battlefield.
  • I didn't really keep it up continuously, but practiced occasionally in college.
  • As a result I'm spending about £10 a week less than I was and I intend to keep it up.
Synonyms
continue, keep on with, continue with, go on with, carry on with, persist with, persevere with; maintain, carry on, keep going, sustain
Keep something in an efficient or proper state: the rector could not afford to keep up the grounds
More example sentences
  • I've thought that the ugly house was the home of someone old and ill, someone who couldn't afford to keep it up, someone whose entire life was confined to one small room upstairs.
  • There is generally a tighter management of the properties because Mum and Dad say, ‘You keep it up or the rents goes up’.’
  • My father-in-law has become quite ill and it's becoming increasingly difficult for my mother-in-law to keep up the house.
Make something remain at a high level: he was whistling to keep up his spirits
More example sentences
  • With cases of vomiting there is a risk of dehydration among children, so parents should make sure fluid levels are kept up.
  • It is all done with a flowing pace that keeps the interest level up, managing to be both educational and entertaining.
  • Well, I'm older, and so I have to keep the energy level up.

Derivatives

keepable

adjective
More example sentences
  • I'm new to the whole trout game and as Browns are prevalent where I live, I was wondering what is a keepable size?
  • The first step to creating a keepable resolution is getting completely honest about your commitment level.
  • What they do is rework the law to make it keepable.

Definition of keep in:

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Word of the day envenom
Pronunciation: enˈvenəm
verb
put poison on or into; make poisonous