Language: Old English
Origin: healdan


1 verb
hold1 S1 W1 past tense and past participle held

in your hand/arms

a) [transitive] to have something in your hand, hands, or arms:
Could you hold my bag for me?
hold something in your hand/arms
He was holding a knife in one hand.
I held the baby in my arms.
hold hands (=hold each other's hands)
They sat holding hands under a tree.
hold somebody close/tightly (=with your arms around someone)
Max held her close and wiped away her tears.
b) [transitive always + adverb/preposition] to move your hand or something in your hand in a particular direction
hold something out/up etc
He held out his hand to help her to her feet.
Hold the picture up so we can see it.


[transitive] to have a meeting, party, election etc in a particular place or at a particular time:
This year's conference will be held at the Hilton Hotel.
A thanksgiving ceremony was held to mark the occasion.
The funeral was held on a grey day in November.
In April, the President held talks with Chinese leaders.

keep something in position

[transitive] to make something stay in a particular position
hold something open/up etc
We used rolled-up newspapers to hold the windows open.
Remember to hold your head up and keep your back straight.
hold something in place/position
A couple of screws should hold it in place.
Lift your head off the floor and hold this position for five seconds.


a) to have a particular job or position, especially an important one:
Do you really think he's capable of holding such a responsible position?
hold the post/position/office etc (of something)
She was the first woman to hold the office of Australian state premier.
The governor had held the post since 1989.
Whoever is elected will hold office (=have an important political position) for four years.
b) to have a particular title or record, because you have won a competition, are the best at something etc:
The programme still holds the record for the longest running TV series.
The last Briton to hold the title was Bert Nicholson.


[transitive] to keep something to be used when it is needed:
Further copies of the book are held in the library.
Weapons were held at various sites.

keep something available for somebody

[transitive] to agree not to give something such as a ticket, a place at a restaurant, a job etc to anyone except a particular person:
We can hold the reservation for you until next Friday.
hold something open
You can't expect them to hold the job open for much longer - you'll have to decide whether you want it or not.

keep somebody somewhere

[transitive] to keep someone somewhere, and not allow them to leave:
Police are holding two men in connection with the robbery.
hold somebody prisoner/hostage/captive
A senior army officer was held hostage for four months.
hold somebody incommunicado (=keep someone somewhere and not allow them to communicate with anyone)


[transitive not in progressive] to have a particular opinion or belief:
Experts hold varying opinions as to the causes of the disease.
be widely/generally/commonly held (=be the opinion of a lot of people)
This view is not widely held.
be held to be something
She was held to be one of the most talented actors of her time.
hold that
The judge held that the child's interests in this case must come first.

hold somebody responsible/accountable/liable (for something)

to say or decide that someone should accept the responsibility for something bad that happens:
If anything happens to her, I'll hold you personally responsible.
He may have had a terrible childhood, but he should still be held accountable for his own actions.

own something

[transitive] to officially own or possess money, a document, a company etc:
He holds shares in ICI.
Do you hold a valid passport?

contain particular amount

[transitive not in progressive] to have the space to contain a particular amount of something:
The movie theater holds 500 people.
The tank should hold enough to last us a few days.


[intransitive and transitive] to be strong enough to support the weight of something or someone:
Careful! I'm not sure that branch will hold you.
The bridge didn't look as though it would hold.

stay at same level

[intransitive and transitive] to stay at a particular amount, level, or rate, or to make something do this:
The bank is holding interest rates at 4%.
Since then, the pound has held steady against the dollar.
hold somebody's interest/attention (=make someone stay interested)
Colourful pictures help hold the students' interest.

not change

[intransitive] to continue to be true, good, available etc:
What I said yesterday holds.
Does your invitation still hold?
hold true/good
Twenty years on, his advice still holds good.
weather/luck holds (out) (=continues to be good)
If our luck holds, we could reach the final.


[transitive] spoken used in particular phrases to tell someone to wait or not to do something:
I'll have a tuna fish sandwich please - and hold the mayo. (=do not give me any)
hold it!
Hold it! We're not quite ready.
hold your horses! (=used to tell someone to do something more slowly or carefully)

hold your head up

also hold your head high to behave as if you are proud of yourself or respect yourself:
They may have lost the game, but I still think they've earned the right to hold their heads high today.

hold your breath

a) to deliberately not breathe out for a short time:
Hold your breath and count to ten.
b) to not breathe out and try not to make a sound because you do not want to be noticed:
Julie shrank back against the wall and held her breath.

not hold your breath

spoken used to say that you do not expect something to happen, even though someone has said it will:
He promised he'd phone, but I'm not holding my breath.

hold (your) fire

a) to not shoot at someone when you were going to
b) to not criticize, attack, or oppose someone when you were going to:
The president urged his party to hold fire on the issue a few days longer.


[intransitive] also

hold the line

spoken to wait until the person you have telephoned is ready to answer:
Mr Stevens is busy at the moment - would you like to hold?
Please hold the line while I transfer you.


[transitive] if an army holds a place, it controls it or defends it from attack:
The French army held the town for three days.

musical note

[transitive]APM to make a musical note continue for a particular length of time


[transitive] formal if the future holds something, that is what may happen:
Thousand of workers are waiting to see what the future holds.

have a quality

[transitive] formal to have a particular quality
hold (little) interest/appeal/promise etc
Many church services hold little appeal for modern tastes.

hold your own (against somebody)

to successfully defend yourself or succeed in a difficult situation, competition etc:
He was a good enough player to hold his own against the Americans.

not hold a candle to somebody/something

to be much worse than someone or something else

be left holding the baby

British English, be left holding the bag American English to be left as the only person responsible for dealing with a difficult situation, especially something someone else started:
He was left holding the financial baby when his musical partner joined another band.

hold sway

to have a lot of influence or power:
Among people here, traditional values still hold sway.

hold court

to get the attention of everyone while you are talking, especially when you are trying to entertain people:
Joey would walk into the bar and hold court all night.

hold your tongue

spoken used to tell someone to stop talking or to not tell someone about something:
I reckon you've just got to learn to hold your tongue.

hold all the cards

to have all the advantages in a situation in which people are competing or arguing:
'There's not much we can do. They seem to hold all the cards,' said Dan gloomily.

hold fast (to something)

to keep believing strongly in something

hold a conversation

to have a conversation

hold the fort

to be responsible for something while the person usually responsible for it is not there:
She's holding the fort while the manager's on holiday.

hold the lead/advantage

to be winning in a competition, game etc:
Celtic held the lead in the first half.

there's no holding somebody (back)

spoken used to say that someone is so determined to do something that you cannot prevent them from doing it

can hold your drink/liquor/alcohol etc

to be able to drink a lot of alcohol without getting drunk or ill

not hold water

if an excuse, a statement etc does not hold water, it does not seem to be true or reasonable

hold something/somebody dear

formal to care about something or someone a lot:
We were facing the loss of everything we held dear.

hold the road

TTC if a car holds the road well you can drive it quickly around bends without losing control

➔ hold a course

at course1 (8)

hold something against somebody

phrasal verb
to continue to dislike someone or not forgive them because of something bad they have done in the past:
You can't still hold that against him, surely?

hold back

phrasal verb

hold somebody/something ↔ back

to make someone or something stop moving forward:
Police in riot gear held back the demonstrators.

hold something ↔ back

to stop yourself from feeling or showing a particular emotion:
She struggled to hold back her tears.
Anger flooded through her. She couldn't hold it back.

hold somebody/something ↔ back

to prevent someone or something from making progress:
They felt the British economy was being held back by excessive government controls.

hold (somebody) back

to be unwilling to do something, especially because you are being careful, or to make someone unwilling to do something:
In the current situation many investors are holding back.
She wanted to tell him but pride held her back.

hold something ↔ back

to keep something secret:
Tell me all about it - don't hold anything back!

hold somebody/something ↔ down

phrasal verb
1 to make someone or something stay on something, and stop them from moving away or escaping:
We had to hold the tent down with rocks to stop it blowing away.
It took three strong men to hold him down.
2 to prevent the level of something such as prices from rising:
We will aim to hold down prices.

hold down a job

to succeed in keeping a job for a period of time:
He's never held down a job for longer than a few weeks.
4 to keep people under control or limit their freedom:
The people were held down for centuries by their conquerors.

hold forth

phrasal verb
to give your opinion on a subject, especially for a long time
hold forth on
The speaker was holding forth on the collapse of modern society.

hold off

phrasal verb
1 to delay doing something:
Buyers have been holding off until the price falls.
hold off (on) doing something
Hold off making your decision until Monday.

hold somebody ↔ off

a) to prevent someone who is trying to attack or defeat you from succeeding:
Not even a gun could hold him off forever.
b) to prevent someone from coming towards you or succeeding in speaking to you:
There's already a crowd of reporters outside - I'll try to hold them off for a while.
3 if rain or bad weather holds off, it does not start, although it looked as if it would:
The rain held off until after the game.

hold on

phrasal verb
1 spoken
a) to wait for a short time:
Hold on, I'll just get my coat.
b) used when you have just noticed, heard, or remembered something interesting or wrong:
Hold on a minute! Isn't that your brother's car over there?
c) used to ask someone on the telephone to wait until the person they want to talk to is available:
Can you hold on? I'll try to find her.
2 to have your hands or arms tightly around something:
hold on to
Hold on to my arm.
3 to continue doing something that is very difficult to do:
San Francisco held on to win 4-2.

hold on to somebody/something

phrasal verb
to keep something rather than losing it, selling it, or giving it to someone else:
The soldiers held on to the bridge for three more days.
I think I'll hold on to these old records for now.

hold out

phrasal verb

hold out something

to think or say that something is possible or likely to happen, especially something good
not hold out much hope/hold out little hope
Negotiators aren't holding out much hope of a peaceful settlement.
hold out the prospect/promise of something
alternative methods which hold out the promise of improved health
2 if a supply of something holds out, there is still some left:
Water supplies won't hold out much longer.
3 to continue to successfully defend a place that is being attacked:
The rebels held out for another night but then fresh forces arrived.
4 to try to prevent yourself from doing something that someone is trying to force you to do
hold out against
I didn't know how much longer I could hold out against their relentless questioning.

hold out for something

phrasal verb
to not accept anything less than you have asked for:
Transport workers are holding out for a 20% pay rise.

hold out on somebody

phrasal verb
to not tell someone about something important:
She must have been holding out on him all these years.

hold something over

phrasal verb
1 [usually passive] formal to do or deal with something at a later time:
The matter was held over for further review.

hold something over somebody

to use something bad that you know about someone to make them do what you want:
He knows I've been in prison and is holding it over me.

be held over

especially American English if a play, film, concert etc is held over, it is shown for longer than planned because it is very popular

hold to something

phrasal verb
1 if you hold to a belief, principle, promise etc, you believe it or behave according to it:
He admitted he did not hold to the traditional view of God.

hold somebody to something

to make someone do what they have promised:
'I'll ask him tomorrow.' 'OK, but I'm going to hold you to that.'

hold somebody to something

British EnglishDS to prevent your opponent in a sports game from getting more than a particular number of points:
Norway held Holland to a 2-2 draw.

hold together

phrasal verb
1 if a group or organization holds together, or if something holds it together, it stays strong and does not separate into different parts or groups:
Against all expectations, the coalition held together well.
hold something ↔ together
In those days the Church held the community together.
2 to remain whole and good enough to use, or to make something do this:
Incredibly, the raft held together till we reached the opposite shore.
hold something ↔ together
I wondered how the structure was held together.

hold up

phrasal verb

hold something ↔ up

to support something and prevent it from falling down:
The roof is held up by massive stone pillars.

hold somebody/something ↔ up

[usually passive] to delay someone or something:
Sorry I'm late - I was held up at work.

hold up something

to rob or try to rob a place or person by using violence:
Two armed men held up a downtown liquor store last night.
4 to not become weaker:
His physical condition has held up well.

hold somebody/something up as something

phrasal verb
to use someone or something as a good example or as proof of something:
The school is held up as a model for others.
This incident will be held up as proof that tougher controls are needed.

hold with something

phrasal verb

not hold with something

British English used to say that someone does not approve of something:
He says he doesn't hold with all this politically correct stuff.
not hold with doing something
I don't hold with hitting children in any circumstances.

hold, take/get hold of, pick up
Hold means to have something in your hand, hands, or arms He was holding a piece of paper. If you want to talk about someone putting their hands or fingers around something and starting to hold it, use take/get hold of She got hold of the knife and stabbed him. If you want to talk about someone putting their fingers around something and taking it, especially from the floor, use pick up I picked up all the toys from the floor.!! Use pick not pick up when you are talking about pulling flowers off a plant She was in the garden picking flowers (NOT She was in the garden picking up flowers).
WORD FOCUS: police WORD FOCUS: police
people in the police force: police officer, policeman, policewoman, detective, cop informal

the building where the police work: police station

what the police do: investigate crimes, find/collect evidence, arrest people who they think are guilty of a crime, question/interrogate people about crimes, hold/detain people in custody, charge people with crimes, release people if they are innocent

See also

Dictionary results for "hold"
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