Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

keep

 - definition
 
 
 
Close

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Close

Thesaurus

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary entries. Click on the T button in an entry to review the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

more
verb keep pronunciation in British English /kiːp/ 
Word Forms
Close
present tense
I/you/we/theykeep
he/she/itkeeps
present participlekeeping
past tensekept
past participlekept
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to stay in a state, position, or place without changing or moving

    Keep still while I brush your hair.

    People kept quiet because they were afraid.

    I walked along the hall, keeping close to the side.

    1. a.
      [transitive] to make someone or something stay in a state, position, or place

      Keep her warm and give her plenty to drink.

      Police tried to keep the two rival groups apart.

      Why can't we just keep things simple?

      keep someone/something under observation:

      The patient is being kept under observation.

      keep someone/something under control:

      They do not understand the importance of keeping costs under control.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to do something many times, or to continue doing it
    keep doing something:

    I keep on telling you but you won't listen.

    Keep taking the tablets.

    I keep forgetting to put the answering machine on.

    1. a.
      [transitive] to make someone continue doing something
      keep someone doing something:

      Sorry to keep you waiting.

      She kept me talking for forty-five minutes.

    2. b.
      [transitive] to make something continue to operate or exist
      keep something doing something:

      We need more money to keep the farm going.

    3. c.
      [intransitive/transitive] used when giving directions, for telling someone to continue in a particular direction
      keep right/left/straight on:

      Don't go left down Priory Road: keep straight on.

      keep on/going:

      Keep on until you reach the traffic lights.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to continue to have or own something

    I think we should keep this one and sell the others.

    1. a.
      used when you allow someone else to have something

      I've got two copies, so you can keep that one.

      She told the waiter to keep the change.

    2. b.
      used about things that are important to you

      How can I stay here and keep my self-respect?

      Most employees will keep their jobs when the company changes hands.

  4. 4
    [transitive] to store something in a particular place so that you know where it is

    Read this letter carefully, and keep it in a safe place.

    Where do you keep the washing powder?

    1. a.
      to store information by writing it or putting it into a computer

      We keep all these transactions on file.

      keep a record/keep records:

      Some companies do not keep detailed records.

      keep a diary/journal:

      Every member of the group has to keep a diary.

  5. 5
    [transitive] to control something so that it stays within a limit

    Costs must be kept within reasonable limits.

    1. a.
      [intransitive] to stay within a limit
      keep within:

      I am trying to keep within budget.

  6. 6
    [transitive] to do what you said you would do

    If you cannot keep your appointment, please let us know.

    keep a promise:

    I have tried to keep my promise.

    keep your word:

    He promised the family, and I think he will keep his word.

  7. 7
    [transitive] to provide money for yourself or someone else, in order to pay for the food, clothes, and other things that you or they need

    She keeps the family on two hundred pounds a week.

    keep someone in something (=pay for them to buy it):

    His pay doesn't even keep the family in food.

  8. 8
    [transitive] to own animals and look after them

    A few cows are kept to provide milk, cheese, and cream.

    I have been keeping tropical fish for twenty years.

  9. 9
    [intransitive] if food or other substances keep for a particular period of time, they stay in good condition for that period of time

    Perfume doesn't keep indefinitely, you know.

    keep for:

    The sauce will keep for two weeks in the fridge.

  10. 10
    [intransitive] [always progressive] British spoken used for asking if someone is well

    Are you keeping well?

    How are you keeping?

  11. 11
    [transitive] spoken to delay someone

    What kept you?

    I won't keep you long.

phrases

sandwich generation

a generation … who are balancing working life with caring for both their teenage children and elderly parents

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

dish

to gossip or share personal information with someone …

add a word

Blog

A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog