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hold back - definition and synonyms

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phrasal verb
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theyhold back
he/she/itholds back
present participleholding back
past tenseheld back
past participleheld back
  1. 1
    [transitive] to stop someone or something from moving forwards

    Ollie had to hold Tom back to prevent him retaliating.

    Her hair was held back by two clips.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to stop someone from being as successful as they should

    Her parents worried that her classmates were holding her back.

  3. 3
    [intransitive/transitive] to decide not to do or say something, or to make someone decide not to do or say something

    He held back, remembering the mistake he had made before.

  4. 4
    [transitive] to not show what you are thinking or feeling

    Joe held back his anger.

    She bit her lip to hold back the tears.

  5. 5
    [transitive] to not allow someone to have something, for example money

    They held back the final payment because they weren’t satisfied with the work.

See also main entry: hold
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