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hold - definition and synonyms


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verb hold pronunciation in American English /hoʊld/
Word Forms
present tense
present participleholding
past tenseheld
past participleheld
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  1. 1
    [transitive] to carry something using your hands or arms
    Can you hold my bag for a moment?
    hold something in/under/between something: He held the book in his hand.
    She was holding the catalog under her arm.
    Barry was holding a coin between his finger and thumb.
    1. a.
      to carry something using another part of your body
      He held the thread between his teeth.
    2. b.
      to carry another person
      She was holding a baby in her arms.
  2. 2
    [transitive] to support someone or something, or to stop them from moving
    Can you hold the wrapping paper for me so I can tape it up?
    He was held by a single rope.
    hold something steady: We had to hold our cups steady as the boat rocked.
    hold something shut/still/apart etc.: Hold the flashlight still.
  3. 3
    [transitive] to put a part of your body into a particular position
    She was holding her hand to her heart.
    Ruth held her head in her hands.
  4. 4
    [transitive] to put your arms around someone because you love them or because they are unhappy
    He sat beside her and held her.
    hold someone tight/close: She kissed him and held him tight.
  5. 5
    [transitive] to have something inside
    The cabinet holds a TV and CD player.
  6. 6
    [transitive] to be able to fit an amount of something inside
    How much does this pitcher hold?
    The stadium holds 80,000 people.
  7. 7
    [transitive] to have something, for example a job
    She is the first woman to hold this post.
    He held a position of trust and responsibility.
    hold office: President Mitterrand held office for 14 years.
    1. a.
      to have an opinion about something
      She certainly holds some interesting views.
    2. b.
      formal to own money or property
      Three per cent of our shares are now held by U.S. investors.
    3. c.
      formal to have a document that allows you to do something
      He holds a foreign passport.
  8. 8
    [intransitive] if a promise or offer holds, it still exists
    We need to find out if his offer still holds.
    They were pessimistic about the ceasefire holding until the spring.
    1. a.
      [intransitive/transitive] to stay or keep something at a particular level
      The price has been held at its current level.
      hold steady: The coffee market has held steady for a few months.
    2. b.
      [intransitive] to continue to support a weight without breaking or being damaged
      I don’t know if the bridge will hold.
    3. d.
      [transitive] to continue to play or sing a note without stopping
      Hold that last note for a count of four.
      Synonyms and related words
    4. e.
      [intransitive/transitive] to stay in the same position, for example when you are exercising
      Hold this position for a few seconds, then relax.
  9. 9
    [transitive] to keep information, for example on a computer
    I wanted to see what information the police held on me.
  10. 10
    [transitive] to not give something that someone wants to another person
    hold a table/reservation/room/seat: They said they’d hold the reservation for 24 hours.
  11. 11
    [transitive] [often passive] to keep someone somewhere as a prisoner
    They were arrested and held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
    hold someone at gunpoint: The family were held at gunpoint.
    hold someone prisoner/hostage/captive: The four men had been held captive for over two years.
    1. b.



      hold on to

      to stop someone from leaving or from doing what they want
      It seemed that no man could hold her for long.
  12. 13
    [transitive] formal if a court or judge holds that something is true, the court or judge says that it is true
    hold (that): The court held that the defendants were guilty of trespassing.
    be held to be something: The clause was held to be unreasonable.
    be held to have done something: The plaintiff was held to have acted reasonably.
    1. a.
      used for saying what people believe
      hold (that): Conventional wisdom held that he would resign.
      One school of thought holds that very few people reach their full potential.
  13. 14
    [transitive] if you hold a meeting or event, you organize it
    The government agreed to hold a referendum.
    1. a.
      [often passive] if a meeting or event is held in a particular place or at a particular time, it takes place there at that time
      The presidential election was held on April 26.
  14. 15
    [intransitive/transitive] to wait in order to speak to someone on the telephone. You can also say that you hold the line
    “Do you want to call back later?” “No, I’ll hold.”
    Can you hold the line, please?
  15. 16
    [transitive] formal to have a particular quality
    The project holds a great deal of promise.
    He holds no authority over us.
    1. b.
      literary if your face or voice holds a particular emotion, it shows it
      His eyes held a look of desperation.
  16. 17
    [transitive] to continue to have a particular feeling, especially a bad one
    I no longer hold any resentment toward him.
    hold a grudge: He’s not someone who holds a grudge.
  17. 18
    [transitive] to keep an idea or picture in your mind
    I tried to hold his image in my mind as I walked away.


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