verb (used with object), re·served, re·serv·ing.

  1. to keep back or save for future use, disposal, treatment, etc.
  2. to retain or secure by express stipulation.
  3. to set apart for a particular use, purpose, service, etc.: ground reserved for gardening.
  4. to keep for oneself.
  5. to retain (the original color) of a surface, as on a painted ceramic piece.
  6. to save or set aside (a portion of the Eucharistic elements) to be administered, as to the sick, outside of the Mass or communion service.


  1. Finance.
    1. cash, or assets readily convertible into cash, held aside, as by a corporation, bank, state or national government, etc., to meet expected or unexpected demands.
    2. uninvested cash held to comply with legal requirements.
  2. something kept or stored for use or need; stock: a reserve of food.
  3. a resource not normally called upon but available if needed.
  4. a tract of public land set apart for a special purpose: a forest reserve.
  5. an act of reserving; reservation, exception, or qualification: I will do what you ask, but with one reserve.
  6. Military.
    1. a fraction of a military force held in readiness to sustain the attack or defense made by the rest of the force.
    2. the part of a country’s fighting force not in active service.
    3. reserves,the enrolled but not regular components of the U.S. Army.
  7. formality and self-restraint in manner and relationship; avoidance of familiarity or intimacy with others: to conduct oneself with reserve.
  8. reticence or silence.


  1. kept in reserve; forming a reserve: a reserve fund; a reserve supply.
  2. of or relating to the animal awarded second place in livestock shows: the reserve champion steer.
  1. in reserve, put aside or withheld for a future need; reserved: money in reserve.
  2. without reserve,
    1. without restraint; frankly; freely.
    2. (of articles at auction) without limitation as to the terms of sale, especially with no stipulated minimum price.

verb (tr)

  1. to keep back or set aside, esp for future use or contingency; withhold
  2. to keep for oneself; retainI reserve the right to question these men later
  3. to obtain or secure by advance arrangementI have reserved two tickets for tonight’s show
  4. to delay delivery of (a judgment), esp in order to allow time for full consideration of the issues involved


    1. something kept back or set aside, esp for future use or contingency
    2. (as modifier)a reserve stock
  1. the state or condition of being reservedI have plenty in reserve
  2. a tract of land set aside for the protection and conservation of wild animals, flowers, etca nature reserve
  3. Also called: reservation Canadian an area of land set aside, esp (in the US and Canada) for American or Canadian Indian peoples
  4. Australian and NZ an area of publicly owned land set aside for sport, recreation, etc
  5. the act of reserving; reservation
  6. a member of a team who only plays if a playing member drops out; a substitute
  7. (often plural)
    1. a part of an army or formation not committed to immediate action in a military engagement
    2. that part of a nation’s armed services not in active service
  8. coolness or formality of manner; restraint, silence, or reticence
  9. finance
    1. a portion of capital not invested (a capital reserve) or a portion of profits not distributed (a revenue or general reserve) by a bank or business enterprise and held to meet legal requirements, future liabilities, or contingencies
    2. (often plural)liquid assets held by an organization, government, etc, to meet expenses and liabilities
  10. without reserve without reservations; fully; wholeheartedly

mid-14c., from Old French reserver “set aside, withhold” (12c.) and directly from Latin reservare “keep back, save up; retain, preserve,” from re- “back” (see re-) + servare “to keep, save, preserve, protect” (see observe). Meaning “to book” is from 1935. Related: Reserved; reserving.


“something stored up,” 1610s, from reserve (v.) or from French réserve, a Middle French back-formation from reserver. Meaning “self-imposed restraint on freedom of words or actions; habit of keeping back the feelings” is from 1650s.


  1. To keep back, as for future use or for a special purpose.
  2. To set or cause to be set apart for a particular person or use.


  1. Something kept back or saved for future use or a special purpose.


  1. Held back, set aside, or saved.
  2. Forming a reserve.
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