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(1)   A cell in a jail or prison
(2)   The main tower within the walls of a medieval castle or fortress
(3)   The financial means whereby one lives
"Each child was expected to pay for their keep"
"He applied to the state for support"
"He could no longer earn his own livelihood"


(4)   Observe correctly or closely
"The pianist kept time with the metronome"
"Keep count"
"I cannot keep track of all my employees"
(5)   Maintain by writing regular records
"Keep a diary"
"Maintain a record"
"Keep notes"
(6)   Supply with necessities and support
"She alone sustained her family"
"The money will sustain our good cause"
"There's little to earn and many to keep"
(7)   Retain possession of
"Can I keep my old stuffed animals?"
"She kept her maiden name after she married"
(8)   Look after; be the keeper of; have charge of
"He keeps the shop when I am gone"
(9)   Retain rights to
"Keep my job for me while I give birth"
"Keep my seat, please"
"Keep open the possibility of a merger"
(10)   Allow to remain in a place or position
"We cannot continue several servants any longer"
"She retains a lawyer"
"The family's fortune waned and they could not keep their household staff"
"Our grant has run out and we cannot keep you on"
"We kept the work going as long as we could"
(11)   Keep under control; keep in check
"Suppress a smile"
"Keep your temper"
"Keep your cool"
(12)   Prevent from doing something or being in a certain state
"We must prevent the cancer from spreading"
"His snoring kept me from falling asleep"
"Keep the child from eating the marbles"
(13)   Celebrate, as of holidays or rites
"Keep the commandments"
"Celebrate Christmas"
"Observe Yom Kippur"
(14)   Conform one's action or practice to
"Keep appointments"
"She never keeps her promises"
"We kept to the original conditions of the contract"
(15)   Supply with room and board
"He is keeping three women in the guest cottage"
"Keep boarders"
(16)   Keep in a certain state, position, or activity; e.g., "keep clean"
"Hold in place"
"She always held herself as a lady"
"The students keep me on my toes"
(17)   Continue a certain state, condition, or activity
"Keep on working!"
"We continued to work into the night"
"Keep smiling"
"We went on working until well past midnight"
(18)   Maintain in safety from injury, harm, or danger
"May God keep you"
(19)   Fail to spoil or rot
"These potatoes keep for a long time"


, from from from . Akin to Old English , , , ,


  1. To maintain possession of.
    I keep a small stock of painkillers for emergencies.
  2. To maintain the condition of.
    I keep my specimens under glass to protect them.
  3. To remain in, to be confined to.
    • 1605, William Shakespeare, King Lear, III.ii,
      The wrathful skies / Gallow the very wanderers of the dark / And make them keep their caves.
  4. To wait for, keep watch for.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book VIII:
      And than Sir Trystrames rode prevayly unto the posterne where kepte hym La Beale Isode, and there she made hym grete chere, and thanked God of his good spede.
  5. To restrain.
    I keep my brother out of trouble by keeping him away from his friends and hard at work.
  6. To continue.
    I keep taking the tablets, but to no avail.
  7. To remain edible or otherwise usable.
    Potatoes can keep if they are in a root cellar.
    Latex paint won't keep indefinitely.
  8. To remain in a state.
    The rabbit avoided detection by keeping still.
  9. To act as wicket-keeper.
    Godfrey Evans kept for England for many years.
  10. to raise; to care for.
    • 1914, Robert Joos, Success with Hens, Forbes & company, page 217:
      Of course boys are boys and need watching, but there is little watching necessary when they keep chickens.


  1. Care, notice.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book VII:
      So Sir Gareth strayned hym so that his olde wounde braste ayen on bledynge; but he was hote and corragyous and toke no kepe, but with his grete forse he strake downe the knyght [...].
  2. The main tower of a castle or fortress, located within the castle walls.
  3. The food or money required to keep someone alive and healthy; one's support, maintenance.
    He works as a cobbler's apprentice for his keep.