—v.t. 1. to hold or retain in one's possession; hold as one's own: If you like it, keep it. Keep the change. 2. to hold or have the use of for a period of time: You can keep it for the summer. 3. to hold in a given place; store: You can keep your things in here. 4. to maintain (some action), esp. in accordance with specific requirements, a promise, etc.: to keep watch; to keep step. 5. to cause to continue in a given position, state, course, or action: to keep a light burning; to keep a child happy. 6. to maintain in condition or order, as by care and labor: He keeps his car in good condition. 7. to maintain in usable or edible condition; preserve: If you want to keep meat for a long time, freeze it. 8. to hold in custody or under guard, as a prisoner: They kept him in jail. 9. to cause to stay in a particular place; prevent or restrain from departure: The work kept her at the office. 10. to have regularly in stock and for sale: to keep a large supply of machine parts. 11. to maintain in one's service or for one's use or enjoyment: to keep a car and chauffeur. 12. to associate with: She keeps bad company. 13. to have the care, charge, or custody of: She keeps my dog when I travel. 14. to refrain from disclosing; withhold from the knowledge of others: to keep a secret. 15. to withhold from use; reserve; save: I'll keep this toy until you learn to behave. Keep the good wine for company. 16. to hold back or restrain: They kept the child from talking. Nothing can keep him from doing it. 17. to maintain control of; regulate: to keep the peace; to keep your temper. 18. to maintain by writing: to keep a diary. 19. to record (business transactions, daily occurrences, etc.) regularly: to keep records; to keep a list of visitors. 20. to observe; pay obedient regard to (a law, rule, promise, etc.).
21. to conform to; follow; fulfill: to keep one's word. 22. to observe (a season, festival, etc.) with formalities or rites: to keep Christmas. 23. to maintain or carry on, as an establishment, business, etc.; manage.
24. to guard; protect: He kept her from harm. 25. to maintain or support: It costs more each year to keep a house. 26. to support or contribute to the support of in return for sexual or other favors.
27. to take care of; tend: to keep a vegetable garden. 28. to raise (livestock): These farmers keep goats and cattle. 29. to remain in (a place, spot, etc.): Please keep your seats. 30. to maintain one's position in or on: He kept the job. 31. to continue to follow (a path, track, course, etc.).
32. to maintain in active existence, as an assembly, court, or fair.
—v.i. 1. to continue in an action, course, position, state, etc.: to keep in sight; to keep going. 2. to remain, or continue to be, as specified: to keep cool. 3. to remain or stay in a particular place: to keep indoors. 4. to continue unimpaired or without spoiling: The food will keep on ice. 5. to admit of being reserved for a future occasion: I have more to tell you, but it will keep. 6. to keep oneself or itself as specified (fol. by away, back, off, out, etc.): Keep off the grass. 7. to restrain oneself; refrain (usually fol. by from): Try to keep from smiling. 8. keep at, to persist in; be steadfast: You'll never master your French unless you keep at it. 9. keep back, a. to hold in check; restrain: The dikes kept back the floodwaters. b. to stay away from: The crowds would not keep back from the barrier. c. to refuse to reveal: The prisoner was keeping back vital information. 10. keep books, to maintain financial records.
11. keep down, a. to hold under control or at a reduced or acceptable level: to keep your voice down. b. to prevent from going up or increasing: to keep prices down. 12. keep in with, to stay in someone's favor; be on good terms with: They are social climbers who make certain to keep in with all the right people. 13. keep on, to continue; persist: If you keep on singing they'll ask you to leave. 14. keep tab or tabs on. See tab1 (def. 11).
15. keep time. See time (def. 40).
16. keep to, a. to adhere to; conform to: She keeps to the rules. b. to confine oneself to: to keep to one's bed. 17. keep to oneself, a. to remain aloof from the society of others.
b. to hold (something) as secret or confidential: I'll tell you only if you promise to keep it to yourself. 18. keep track of. See track (def. 22).
19. keep up, a. to maintain an equal rate of speed, activity, or progress with another or others.
b. to persevere; continue.
c. to maintain the good condition of; keep in repair.
d. Also,keep up onor with. to stay informed: to keep up on current events. e. to match one's friends, neighbors, business associates, etc., in success, affluence, etc.
—n. 1. board and lodging; subsistence; support: to work for one's keep. 2. the innermost and strongest structure or central tower of a medieval castle.
3. keeps,(used with a sing. v.) a game of marbles in which the players keep the marbles they have won.
4. for keeps,Informal. a. under the stipulation that one keeps one's winnings.
b. with serious intent or purpose.
c. finally; permanently: They decided to settle the argument for keeps.