hold 1 (hōld)
v. held (hĕld), hold·ing, holds
a. To have and keep in one's grasp: held the reins tightly.
b. To aim or direct; point: held a hose on the fire.
c. To keep from falling or moving; support: a nail too small to hold the mirror; hold the horse steady; papers that were held together with staples.
d. To sustain the pressure of: The old bridge can't hold much weight.
a. To keep from departing or getting away: Hold the bus! Hold the dog until I find the leash.
b. To keep in custody: held the suspect for questioning.
c. To retain (one's attention or interest): Televised sports can't hold my interest.
d. To avoid letting out or expelling: The swimmer held her breath while underwater.
a. To be filled by; contain: This drawer holds socks.
b. To be capable of holding: a pitcher that holds a quart. See Synonyms at contain.
c. To have as a chief characteristic or quality: The film holds many surprises.
d. To have in store: Let's see what the future holds.
a. To have and maintain in one's possession: holds a great deal of property.
b. To have as a responsible position or a privilege: held the governorship for six years.
c. To have in recognition of achievement or superiority: holds the record for the one-mile race; holds the respect of her peers.
a. To maintain control over: Thieves held the stolen painting for ransom.
b. To maintain occupation of by force or coercion: Protesters held the embassy for a week.
c. To withstand the efforts or advance of (an opposing team, for example).
d. To maintain in a given condition, situation, or action: The storyteller held the crowd spellbound.
a. To impose control or restraint on; curb: She held her temper.
b. To stop the movement or progress of: Hold the presses!
c. To reserve or keep back from use: Please hold two tickets for us. Hold the relish on that hamburger.
d. To defer the immediate handling of: The receptionist held all calls during the meeting.
a. To own or have title to.
b. To be in possession of, whether legally entitled or not: holds an interest in the company.
c. To bind by a contract.
d. To adjudge or decree: The court held that the defendant was at fault.
e. To make accountable; obligate: He held me to my promise.
a. To keep in the mind or convey as a judgment, conviction, or point of view: holds that this economic program is the only answer to high prices.
b. To assert or affirm, especially formally: This doctrine holds that people are inherently good.
c. To regard in a certain way: I hold you in high esteem.
a. To cause to take place; carry on: held the race in Texas; hold a yard sale.
b. To assemble for and conduct the activity of; convene: held a meeting of the board.
a. To carry or support (the body or a bodily part) in a certain position: Can the baby hold herself up yet? Hold up your leg.
b. To cover (the ears or the nose, for example) especially for protection: held my nose against the stench.
a. To maintain a grasp or grip on something.
b. To stay securely fastened: The chain held.
a. To maintain a desired or accustomed position or condition: hopes the weather will hold.
b. To withstand stress, pressure, or opposition: The defense held. We held firm on the negotiations.
3. To continue in the same direction: The ship held to an easterly course.
4. To be valid, applicable, or true: The observation still holds in cases like this.
5. To halt an intended action. Often used in the imperative.
6. To stop the countdown during a missile or spacecraft launch.
7. Slang To have in one's possession illicit or illegally obtained material or goods, especially narcotics: The suspect was holding.
a. The act or a means of grasping.
b. A manner of grasping an opponent, as in wrestling or aikido: a neck hold; an arm hold.
2. Something that may be grasped or gripped, as for support.
3. A control or adjustor on a television that keeps the screen image in proper position: adjusted the horizontal hold.
4. A telephone service that allows one to temporarily interrupt a call without severing the connection.
a. A bond or force that attaches or restrains, or by which something is affected or dominated: a writer with a strong hold on her readership.
b. Complete control: has a firm hold on the complex issues.
c. Full understanding: has a good hold on physics.
a. The sustaining of a note longer than its indicated time value.
b. The symbol designating this pause; a fermata.
a. A direction or indication that something is to be reserved or deferred.
b. A temporary halt, as in a countdown.
a. A prison cell.
b. The state of being in confinement; custody.
9. Archaic A fortified place; a stronghold.
1. To retain in one's possession or control: held back valuable information; held back my tears.
2. To impede the progress of.
3. To restrain oneself: Tell us what happened. Don't hold back.
1. To limit: Please hold the noise down.
2. To fulfill the duties of (a job): holds down two jobs.
To talk at great length.
1. To keep at a distance; resist: held the creditors off.
2. To stop or delay doing something: Let's hold off until we have more data.
1. To maintain one's grip; cling.
2. To endure or continue to do something despite difficulty: They held on until fresh supplies arrived.
3. To wait for something wanted or requested.
1. To present or offer: She held out the possibility that she might run for office.
2. To continue to be in supply or service; last: How long can our food hold out?
3. To continue to resist: The defending garrison held out for a month.
4. To refuse to reach an agreement or insist on certain demands: The union held out for a better raise.
1. To postpone or delay.
2. To keep in a position or state from an earlier period of time.
3. To continue a term of office past the usual length of time.
4. To prolong the engagement of: The film was held over for weeks.
To remain loyal or faithful to: She held to her resolutions.
1. To obstruct or delay.
2. To rob while armed, often at gunpoint.
3. To offer or present as an example: held the essay up as a model for the students.
4. To continue to function without losing force or effectiveness; cope: managed to hold up under the stress.
To agree with; support: I don't hold with your theories.
get hold of
1. To come into possession of; find: Where can I get hold of a copy?
2. To communicate with, as by telephone: tried to get hold of you but the line was busy.
3. To gain control of. Often used reflexively: You must get hold of yourself!
hold a candle to
To compare favorably with: This film doesn't hold a candle to his previous ones.
hold/keep (one's) end up
To fulfill one's part of an agreement; do one's share.
hold (one's) own
To do reasonably well despite difficulty or criticism.
hold out on (someone)
To withhold something from: Don't hold out on me; start telling the truth.
hold (someone's) feet to the fire
To pressure (someone) to consent to or undertake something.
To have a controlling influence; dominate.
hold the bag Informal
1. To be left with empty hands.
2. To be forced to assume total responsibility when it ought to have been shared.
hold the fort Informal
1. To assume responsibility, especially in another's absence.
2. To maintain a secure position.
hold the line
To maintain the existing position or state of affairs: had to hold the line on salary increases.
hold the phone Slang
To stop doing what one is engaged in doing. Often used in the imperative: Hold the phone! Let's end this argument.
To stand up to critical examination: Your explanation doesn't hold water.
no holds barred
Without limits, regulations, or restraints.
1. Into a state of temporary interruption without severing a telephone connection: put me on hold for 10 minutes.
2. Informal Into a state of delay or indeterminate suspension: had to put the romance on hold.
[Middle English holden, from Old English healdan.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
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