1. simple past tense and a past participle of hold1.


  1. John, Jr.,1889–1958, U.S. cartoonist, illustrator, and writer.

verb (used with object), held; held or (Archaic) hold·en; hold·ing.

  1. to have or keep in the hand; keep fast; grasp: She held the purse in her right hand. He held the child’s hand in his.
  2. to set aside; reserve or retain: to hold merchandise until called for; to hold a reservation.
  3. to bear, sustain, or support, as with the hands or arms, or by any other means.
  4. to keep in a specified state, relation, etc.: The preacher held them spellbound.
  5. to detain: The police held him at the station house.
  6. to engage in; preside over; carry on: to hold a meeting.
  7. to keep back from action; hinder; restrain: Fear held him from acting.
  8. to have the ownership or use of; keep as one’s own; occupy: to hold political office.
  9. to contain or be capable of containing: This bottle holds a quart.
  10. to bind or make accountable to an obligation: We will hold you to your promise to pay back the money.
  11. to have or keep in the mind; think or believe: We hold this belief.
  12. to regard or consider: to hold a person responsible.
  13. to decide legally.
  14. to consider of a certain value; rate: We held her best of all the applicants.
  15. to keep forcibly, as against an adversary: Enemy forces held the hill.
  16. to point, aim, or direct: He held a gun on the prisoner. The firefighter held a hose on the blaze.
  17. Music. to sustain (a note, chord, or rest).
  18. to omit from the usual order or combination: Give me a burger well-done—hold the pickle.

verb (used without object), held; held or (Archaic) hold·en; hold·ing.

  1. to remain or continue in a specified state, relation, etc.: Hold still while I take your picture.
  2. to remain fast; adhere; cling: Will this button hold?
  3. to keep or maintain a grasp on something.
  4. to maintain one’s position against opposition; continue in resistance.
  5. to agree or side (usually followed by with): to hold with new methods.
  6. to hold property by some tenure; derive title (usually followed by by, from, in, or of).
  7. to remain attached, faithful, or steadfast (usually followed by to): to hold to one’s purpose.
  8. to remain valid; be in force: The rule does not hold.
  9. to refrain or forbear (usually used imperatively).


  1. an act of holding fast by a grasp of the hand or by some other physical means; grasp; grip: Take hold. Do you have a hold on the rope?
  2. something to hold a thing by, as a handle; something to grasp, especially for support.
  3. something that holds fast or supports something else.
  4. an order reserving something: to put a hold on a library book.
  5. Finance. a security purchased or recommended for long-term growth.
  6. a controlling force or dominating influence: to have a hold on a person.
  7. Wrestling. a method of seizing an opponent and keeping him in control: a toe hold.
  8. Music. fermata.
  9. a pause or delay, as in a continuing series: a hold in the movements of a dance.
  10. a prison or prison cell.
  11. a receptacle for something: a basket used as a hold for letters.
  12. Rocketry. a halt in the prelaunch countdown, either planned or unexpectedly called, to allow correction of one or more faults in the rocket or missile.
  13. a fortified place; stronghold.
  14. (on telephones with two or more lines) a feature that enables a person to maintain a connection on one line while answering another line.

Verb Phrases

  1. hold back,
    1. to restrain or check: Police held back the crowd.
    2. to retain possession of; keep back: He held back ten dollars.
    3. to refrain from revealing; withhold: to hold back information.
    4. to refrain from participating or engaging in some activity: He held back from joining in the singing because he felt depressed.
    5. Photography.dodge(def 2).
  2. hold down,
    1. to restrain; check: Hold down that noise!
    2. to continue to hold and manage well: She held down that job for years.
  3. hold forth,
    1. to extend or offer; propose.
    2. to talk at great length; harangue: When we left, he was still holding forth on World War II.
  4. hold in,
    1. to restrain; check; curb.
    2. to contain oneself; exercise restraint: He was raging inside, but held himself in for fear of saying something he would regret.
  5. hold off,
    1. to keep at a distance; resist; repel.
    2. to postpone action; defer: If you hold off applying for a passport, you may not get one in time.
  6. hold on,
    1. to keep a firm grip on.
    2. to keep going; continue.
    3. to maintain, as one’s opinion or position.
    4. to stop; halt (usually used imperatively): Hold on now! That isn’t what I meant at all.
    5. to keep a telephone connection open by not hanging up the receiver: The operator asked us to hold on while the number we’d dialed was being checked.
  7. hold out,
    1. to present; offer.
    2. to stretch forth; extend: Hold out your hand.
    3. to continue to exist; last: Will the food hold out?
    4. to refuse to yield or submit: The defenders held out for weeks.
    5. to withhold something expected or due: He was suspected of holding out information important to the case.
  8. hold over,
    1. to keep for future consideration or action; postpone.
    2. to remain in possession or in office beyond the regular term.
    3. to remain beyond the arranged period: The movie was held over for a week.
    4. Music.to prolong (a tone) from one measure to the next.
  9. hold up,
    1. to offer; give: She held up his father as an example to follow.
    2. to present to notice; expose: to hold someone up to ridicule.
    3. to hinder; delay: The plane’s departure was held up because of the storm.
    4. to stop by force in order to rob.
    5. to support; uphold: to hold up farm prices.
    6. to stop; halt: They held up at the gate.
    7. to maintain one’s position or condition; endure: They held up through all their troubles.
  10. hold with,
    1. to be in agreement with; concur with: I don’t hold with his pessimistic views.
    2. to approve of; condone: They won’t hold with such a travesty of justice.
  1. get hold of,
    1. to get a hold on: Get hold of the railing.
    2. to communicate with, especially by telephone: If she’s not at home, try to get hold of her at the office.
  2. hold one’s own. own(def 11).
  3. hold one’s peace. peace(def 14).
  4. hold one’s tongue. tongue(def 33).
  5. hold water. water(def 37).
  6. no holds barred, without limits, rules, or restraints.
  7. on hold,
    1. in or into a state of temporary interruption or suspension: The project will be put on hold until funds become available.
    2. Telecommunications.in or into a state of temporary interruption in a telephone connection: I’m putting you on hold to answer another call.Compare call waiting.


  1. the past tense and past participle of hold 1

verb holds, holding or held (hɛld)

  1. to have or keep (an object) with or within the hands, arms, etc; clasp
  2. (tr) to support or bearto hold a drowning man’s head above water
  3. to maintain or be maintained in a specified state or conditionto hold one’s emotions in check; hold firm
  4. (tr) to set aside or reservethey will hold our tickets until tomorrow
  5. (when intr, usually used in commands) to restrain or be restrained from motion, action, departure, etchold that man until the police come
  6. (intr) to remain fast or unbrokenthat cable won’t hold much longer
  7. (intr) (of the weather) to remain dry and brighthow long will the weather hold?
  8. (tr) to keep the attention ofher singing held the audience
  9. (tr) to engage in or carry onto hold a meeting
  10. (tr) to have the ownership, possession, etc, ofhe holds a law degree from London; who’s holding the ace of spades?
  11. (tr) to have the use of or responsibility forto hold the office of director
  12. (tr) to have the space or capacity forthe carton will hold only eight books
  13. (tr) to be able to control the outward effects of drinking beer, spirits, etche can hold his drink well
  14. (often foll by to or by) to remain or cause to remain committed tohold him to his promise; he held by his views in spite of opposition
  15. (tr; takes a clause as object) to claimhe holds that the theory is incorrect
  16. (intr) to remain relevant, valid, or truethe old philosophies don’t hold nowadays
  17. (tr) to keep in the mindto hold affection for someone
  18. (tr) to regard or consider in a specified mannerI hold him very dear
  19. (tr) to guard or defend successfullyhold the fort against the attack
  20. (intr) to continue to gohold on one’s way
  21. (sometimes foll by on) music to sustain the sound of (a note) throughout its specified durationto hold on a semibreve for its full value
  22. (tr) computing to retain (data) in a storage device after copying onto another storage device or onto another location in the same deviceCompare clear (def. 49)
  23. (tr) to be in possession of illegal drugs
  24. hold for or hold good for to apply or be relevant tothe same rules hold for everyone
  25. holding thumbs Southern African holding the thumb of one hand with the other, in the hope of bringing good luck
  26. hold it!
    1. stop! wait!
    2. stay in the same position! as when being photographed
  27. hold one’s head high to conduct oneself in a proud and confident manner
  28. hold one’s own to maintain one’s situation or position esp in spite of opposition or difficulty
  29. hold one’s peace or hold one’s tongue to keep silent
  30. hold water to prove credible, logical, or consistent
  31. there is no holding him he is so spirited or resolute that he cannot be restrained


  1. the act or method of holding fast or grasping, as with the hands
  2. something to hold onto, as for support or control
  3. an object or device that holds fast or grips something else so as to hold it fast
  4. controlling force or influenceshe has a hold on him
  5. a short delay or pause
  6. a prison or a cell in a prison
  7. wrestling a way of seizing one’s opponenta wrist hold
  8. music a pause or fermata
    1. a tenure or holding, esp of land
    2. (in combination)leasehold; freehold; copyhold
  9. a container
  10. archaic a fortified place
  11. get hold of
    1. to obtain
    2. to come into contact with
  12. no holds barred all limitations removed
  13. on hold in a state of temporary postponement or delay


  1. the space in a ship or aircraft for storing cargo

Old English heold, past tense and p.p. of hold.


Old English haldan (Anglian), healdan (West Saxon), “to contain, grasp; retain; foster, cherish,” class VII strong verb (past tense heold, past participle healden), from Proto-Germanic *haldanan (cf. Old Saxon haldan, Old Frisian halda, Old Norse halda, Dutch houden, German halten “to hold,” Gothic haldan “to tend”), originally “to keep, tend, watch over” (as cattle), later “to have.” Ancestral sense is preserved in behold. The original past participle holden was replaced by held beginning 16c., but survives in some legal jargon and in beholden.

Hold back is 1530s, transitive; 1570s, intransitive; hold off is early 15c., transitive; c.1600, intransitive; hold out is 1520s as “to stretch forth,” 1580s as “to resist pressure.” Hold on is early 13c. as “to maintain one’s course,” 1830 as “to keep one’s grip on something,” 1846 as an order to wait or stop. To hold (one’s) tongue “be silent” is from c.1300. To hold (one’s) own is from early 14c. To hold (someone’s) hand “give moral support” is from 1935. Phrase hold your horses “be patient” is from 1844. To have and to hold have been paired alliteratively since at least c.1200, originally of marriage but also of real estate.


“space in a ship below the lower deck, in which cargo is stowed,” 15c. corruption in the direction of hold (v.) of Old English hol “hole” (see hole), influenced by Middle Dutch hol “hold of a ship,” and Middle English hul, which originally meant both “the hold” and “the hull” of a ship (see hull). Or possibly from Old English holu “husk, pod.” All from PIE *kel- “to cover, conceal.”


“act of holding,” c.1100; “grasp, grip,” c.1200, from Old English geheald (Anglian gehald) “keeping, custody, guard; watch, protector, guardian,” from hold (v.). Meaning “place of refuge” is from c.1200; “fortified place” is from c.1300; “place of imprisonment” is from late 14c. Wrestling sense is from 1713. No holds barred “with all restrictions removed” is first recorded 1942 in theater jargon but is ultimately from wrestling. Telephoning sense is from c.1964, from expression hold the line, warning that one is away from the receiver, 1912.

In addition to the idioms beginning with hold

  • hold a candle to, not
  • hold against
  • hold a grudge
  • hold a gun to someone’s head
  • hold all the aces
  • hold at bay
  • hold back
  • hold court
  • hold down
  • hold everything
  • hold forth
  • hold good
  • hold it
  • hold no brief for
  • hold off
  • hold on
  • hold one’s breath
  • hold one’s end up
  • hold one’s fire
  • hold one’s head high
  • hold one’s horses
  • hold one’s own
  • hold one’s peace
  • hold one’s temper
  • hold one’s tongue
  • hold on to
  • hold on to your hat
  • hold out
  • hold out on
  • hold over
  • hold someone’s feet to the fire
  • hold still for
  • hold sway over
  • hold the bag
  • hold the fort
  • hold the line
  • hold the phone
  • hold the purse strings
  • hold to
  • hold true
  • hold up
  • hold water
  • hold with
  • hold your

also see:

  • (hold) at bay
  • bear (hold) a grudge
  • get hold of
  • hang (hold) on to your hat
  • have a hold over
  • lay hold of
  • leave holding the bag
  • no holds barred
  • on hold
  • (hold the) purse strings
  • stand (hold) one’s ground
  • take hold
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