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keep back - definition and synonyms

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phrasal verb
Word Forms
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present tense
I/you/we/theykeep back
he/she/itkeeps back
present participlekeeping back
past tensekept back
past participlekept back
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  1. 1
    [transitive] to not tell someone something, or to not show how you feel
    He said he was fine, but I knew he was keeping something back.
  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] to not move toward someone or something, or to stop someone from doing this
    Police were warning people to keep back.
    A barrier had been erected to keep back the crowds.
  3. 3
    [transitive] to prevent someone from making progress
    It’s only her lack of confidence that’s keeping her back.
  4. 4
    [transitive] to keep part of something so that you can use it later
    Keep back some strawberries for decoration.
  5. 5
    [transitive] if you keep back laughter or tears, you stop yourself from laughing or crying
    She struggled to keep back her tears.
See also main entry: keep

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