keep1 S1 W1 past tense and past participle kept
to stay in a particular state, condition, or position, or to make someone or something do this
not change[linking verb, transitive]
keep (somebody/something) warm/safe/dry etc
We huddled around the fire to keep warm.
keep calm/awake/sane etc
I was struggling to keep awake.
keep something clean/tidy
Keep your room tidy.
keep somebody busy/amused/occupied
some toys to keep the kids amused
You won't be able to keep it secret for ever.
Peter cycles to work to keep fit.
Don't keep us in suspense any longer!
keep (somebody/something) away/back/off/out etc
The police put up barriers to keep the crowds back.
If I were you, I'd keep away from that area at night.
a sign saying 'Danger: Keep out'
The little boy kept close to his mother.
keep (somebody) out of something
Keep him out of trouble.
You keep out of this, Mother (=do not get involved). It's no concern of yours.
How can I cut your hair if you won't keep still!
keep left/right (=stay to the left or right of a path or road as you move)
keep somebody/something doing something
Jane kept the engine running.
to continue doing something or to do the same thing many times
continue doing somethingalso keep on [intransitive]
keep (on) doing something! Do not say 'keep up' doing something. Say keep doing something or keep on doing something.
I keep thinking about Joe, all alone in that place.
I keep telling you, but you won't listen!
She pretended not to hear, and kept on walking.
to have something and not give it back to the person who had it before:
not give back[transitive]
You can keep it. I don't need it any more.
to continue to have something and not lose it or get rid of it:
We decided to keep our old car instead of selling it.
I kept his letters for years.
In spite of everything, Robyn's managed to keep her sense of humor.
to leave something in one particular place so that you can find it easily:
store something[transitive always + adverb/preposition]
Where do you keep your tea bags?
George kept a bottle of whiskey under his bed.
to make someone stay in a place, especially a prison or hospital:
make somebody stay in a place[transitive always + adverb preposition]
He was kept in prison for a week without charge.
to delay someone:
He should be here by now. What's keeping him?
to do what you have promised or agreed to do
do what you promised[transitive]
keep your word/promise
How do I know you'll keep your word?
patients who fail to keep their appointments
to not tell anyone about a secret that you know:
Can I trust you to keep a secret?
to not say anything in order to avoid telling a secret or causing problems
to regularly record written information somewhere
to have or to give someone enough hope and emotional strength to continue living and doing things, in a bad situation:
That woman's been through such a lot - I don't know how she keeps going.
Her letters were the only thing that kept me going while I was in prison.
if you keep a business, institution, regular event etc going, you keep it open or make it continue to happen:
The library costs £5 million a year to run, and the council can't afford to keep it going.
to continue doing something difficult:
Persevere and keep going until you reach your ideal weight.
if something keeps you going, it is enough to satisfy your need while you are waiting to get something bigger or better:
I'll have a biscuit to keep me going until dinner time.
if food keeps, it stays fresh enough to be eaten:
Eat the salmon because it won't keep till tomorrow.
to own and look after animals:
We keep chickens and a couple of pigs.
to stop other people from using something, so that it is available for someone [= save]:
stop other people from using something[transitive]
Will you keep a seat for me?
to make someone wait before you meet them or see them:
Sorry to keep you waiting - I got stuck in a meeting.
to guard a place or watch around you all the time
to own a small business and work in it
shop[transitive] British English old-fashioned
to provide someone with money, food etc:
provide somebody with things[transitive]
He did not earn enough to keep a wife and children.
keep somebody in something
There's enough money there to keep you in champagne for a year!
to guard or protect someone:
The Lord bless you and keep you.
His only thought was to keep the child from harm.
to be the player in a team whose job is to protect the goal or wicket ➔ goalkeeper, wicket keeper
used to tell someone not to say anything or make any noise:
Keep quiet! I'm trying to watch the game.
used to ask if someone is well:
'Hi, Mark! How are you keeping?' 'Oh, not so bad.'
used to tell someone to be more calm, patient etc
used to say that you do not want or are not interested in something:
She can keep her wild parties and posh friends - I like the quiet life.
used to say that you can tell someone something or do something later:
'I don't have time to listen now.' 'Don't worry, it'll keep.'
keep at somethingphrasal verb
to continue to do something, although it is difficult or hard work:
I know it's hard, but keep at it! Don't give up!
to force someone to continue to work hard and not let them stop
keep backphrasal verb
to deliberately not tell someone all that you know about something:
I got the feeling he was keeping something back.
to not show your feelings, even though you want to very much:
keep something ↔ back
She was struggling to keep back the tears.
to prevent someone from being as successful as they could be [= hold back]:
Fear and stereotypes have kept women back for centuries.
to not give or pay something that you were going to give:
keep something ↔ backespecially British English
They kept back some of his wages to pay for the damage.
keep somebody/something ↔ downphrasal verb
to prevent the size, cost, or quantity of something from increasing or being too great:
We need to keep costs down.
to succeed in keeping food in your stomach, instead of bringing it up again out of your mouth, when you are ill:
I could hardly keep anything down for about three days.
used to ask someone to make less noise:
Keep your voice down - she'll hear you!
Can you keep it down - I'm trying to work.
to prevent a group of people from becoming as successful and powerful as the other people in a society:
Plantation owners kept slaves down by refusing them an education.
keep from somethingphrasal verb
to prevent someone from doing something or prevent something from happening
keep somebody from (doing) something
His ex-wife had kept him from seeing his children.
I hope I haven't kept you from your work.
keep something from doing something
Put the pizza in the bottom of the oven to keep the cheese from burning.
keep (yourself) from doing something
The play was so boring, I could hardly keep myself from falling asleep.
to prevent someone from knowing something, by deliberately not telling them about it [= withhold]:
The government had wanted to keep this information from the public.
keep somebody inphrasal verb
to make someone stay in hospital because they are too ill to go home:
They kept her in overnight for observation.
2 British English
to force someone to stay inside, especially as a punishment in school
keep in with somebodyphrasal verb
It's a good idea to keep in with the boss.
keep offphrasal verb
to prevent something from touching or harming something:
She held an old piece of cloth over them both to keep the rain off.
keep something off something
How are we going to keep the flies off this food?
used to tell someone not to touch someone or something:
Keep your hands off me!
to not eat, drink, or take something that is bad for you, or to stop someone else from eating, drinking, or taking it:
Keep off fatty foods.
a programme aimed at keeping teenagers off drugs
4 especially British English
to avoid talking about a particular subject, especially so that you do not upset someone [= avoid, stay off]
if you keep weight off, you do not get heavier again after you have lost weight
keep something ↔ off
6 British English
if rain keeps off, it does not fall
keep onphrasal verb
to continue doing something, or to do something many times
keep on doing something
You just have to keep on trying.
to continue to employ someone, especially for longer than you had planned:
If you're good they might keep you on after Christmas.
keep to somethingphrasal verb
to stay on a particular road, course, piece of ground etc:
It's best to keep to the paths.
to do what has been decided in an agreement or plan, or what is demanded by law:
Keep to the speed limits.
to talk or write only about the subject you are supposed to be talking about
to prevent an amount, degree, or level from becoming higher than it should:
Costs must be kept to a minimum.
to not tell anyone about something:
I'd appreciate it if you kept it to yourself.
6 also keep yourself to yourself British English
to live a very quiet private life and not do many things that involve other people
keep upphrasal verb
to continue doing something:
I don't think I can keep this up any longer.
keep up the good work! (=continue to work hard and well)
if a situation keeps up, it continues without stopping or changing [= continue]:
How long can the economic boom keep up?
to go as quickly as someone else
keep up with
I had to walk fast to keep up with him.
to manage to do as much or as well as other people [≠ fall behind]
keep up with
Jack's having trouble keeping up with the rest of the class.
keep up with the Joneses (=try to have the same new, impressive possessions that other people have)
to continue to read and learn about a particular subject, so that you always know about the most recent facts, products etc
keep up with
Employees need to keep up with the latest technical developments.
to make something continue at its present level or amount, instead of letting it decrease:
keep something ↔ up
NATO kept up the pressure on the Serbs to get out of Kosovo.
if one process keeps up with another, it increases at the same speed and by the same amount
keep up with
Food production is not keeping up with population growth.
to continue to practise a skill so that you do not lose it:
keep something ↔ up
I used to speak French, but I haven't kept it up.
to prevent someone from going to bed:
I hope I'm not keeping you up.
to stay happy, strong, confident etc, by making an effort:
We sang as we marched, to keep our spirits up.
to pretend that everything in your life is normal and happy even though you are in trouble, especially financial trouble