Last modified on 22 July 2014, at 23:18
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From Middle English kepen (to keep, guard, look after, watch), from Old English cēpan (to seize, hold, observe), from Proto-Germanic *kōpijaną (compare West Frisian kypje ‘to look’), variant of *kapōną (compare Old English capian ‘to look’, Dutch kapen ‘to seize, snatch’, German gaffen ‘to gape’, Danish kope (to gawk, stare)), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵab-, *ǵāb- (to look after) (compare Lithuanian žẽbti ‘to eat reluctantly’, Russian забота (zabota) ‘care, worry’).


keep (third-person singular simple present keeps, present participle keeping, simple past and past participle kept)

  1. To continue in (a course or mode of action); not to intermit or fall from; to maintain.
    to keep silence;  to keep one's word;  to keep possession
  2. (transitive) To hold the status of something.
    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.
      The abundance of squirrels kept the dogs running for hours.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 10, The Celebrity:
        Mr. Cooke had had a sloop yacht built at Far Harbor, the completion of which had been delayed, and which was but just delivered. […] The Maria had a cabin, which was finished in hard wood and yellow plush, and accommodations for keeping things cold.
      • 1935, George Goodchild, chapter 1, Death on the Centre Court:
        She mixed furniture with the same fatal profligacy as she mixed drinks, and this outrageous contact between things which were intended by Nature to be kept poles apart gave her an inexpressible thrill.
    3. (transitive) To record transactions, accounts, or events in.
      I used to keep a diary.
    4. (transitive) To enter (accounts, records, etc.) in a book.
    5. (archaic) 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.
    6. To restrain.
      I keep my brother out of trouble by keeping him away from his friends and hard at work.
    7. (with from) To protect, guard.
      May the Lord keep you from harm.
      • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.viii:
        cursse on thy cruell hond, / That twise hath sped; yet shall it not thee keepe / From the third brunt of this my fatall brond []
    8. To supply with necessities and financially support a person.
      He kept a mistress for over ten years.
    9. (of living things) To raise; to care for.
      He has been keeping orchids since retiring.
      • 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.
      • 2011 December 14, Steven Morris, “Devon woman jailed for 168 days for killing kitten in microwave”, The Guardian:
        Jailing her on Wednesday, magistrate Liz Clyne told Robins: "You have shown little remorse either for the death of the kitten or the trauma to your former friend Sarah Knutton." She was also banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
    10. To maintain (an establishment or institution); to conduct; to manage.
    11. To have habitually in stock for sale.
  3. (intransitive) To hold or be held in a state.
    1. (obsolete) To reside for a time; to lodge; to dwell.
      She kept to her bed while the fever lasted.
    2. To continue.
      I keep taking the tablets, but to no avail.
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 22, The Mirror and the Lamp:
        Not unnaturally, “Auntie” took this communication in bad part. [] Next day she [] tried to recover her ward by the hair of the head. Then, thwarted, the wretched creature went to the police for help; she was versed in the law, and had perhaps spared no pains to keep on good terms with the local constabulary.
      • 2013 June 28, Joris Luyendijk, “Our banks are out of control”, The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 3, page 21: 
        Seeing the British establishment struggle with the financial sector is like watching an alcoholic […]. Until 2008 there was denial over what finance had become. […] But the scandals kept coming, and so we entered stage three – what therapists call "bargaining". A broad section of the political class now recognises the need for change but remains unable to see the necessity of a fundamental overhaul. Instead it offers fixes and patches.
    3. To remain edible or otherwise usable.
      Potatoes can keep if they are in a root cellar.
      Latex paint won't keep indefinitely.
    4. (copulative) To remain in a state.
      The rabbit avoided detection by keeping still.
      Keep calm! There's no need to panic.
  4. (obsolete) To wait for, keep watch for.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, 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. (intransitive, cricket) To act as wicket-keeper.
    Godfrey Evans kept for England for many years.
  6. (intransitive, obsolete) To take care; to be solicitous; to watch.
    • William Tyndale (1494-1536)
      Keep that the lusts choke not the word of God that is in us.
  7. (intransitive, obsolete) To be in session; to take place.
    School keeps today.
  8. (transitive) To observe; to adhere to; to fulfill; not to swerve from or violate.
    • Bible, 2 Timothy iv. 7
      I have kept the faith.
    • John Milton (1608-1674)
      Him whom to love is to obey, and keep / His great command.
  9. (transitive, dated) To confine oneself to; not to quit; to remain in.
    to keep one's house, room, bed, etc.
  10. (transitive, dated, by extension) To visit (a place) often; to frequent.
    • John Fletcher (1579-1625)
      'Tis hallowed ground; / Fairies, and fawns, and satyrs do it keep.


Derived termsEdit

Look at pages starting with keep.

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


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keep (plural keeps)

  1. (obsolete) 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. (historical) The main tower of a castle or fortress, located within the castle walls. (According to Wikipedia:keep, the word comes "from the Middle English term kype, meaning basket or cask, and was a term applied to the shell keep at Guînes, said to resemble a barrel".)
  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.
  4. The act or office of keeping; custody; guard; care; heed; charge.
    • Spenser
      Pan, thou god of shepherds all, / Which of our tender lambkins takest keep.
  5. The state of being kept; hence, the resulting condition; case.
    to be in good keep
  6. (obsolete) That which is kept in charge; a charge.
    • Spenser
      Often he used of his keep / A sacrifice to bring.
  7. (engineering) A cap for holding something, such as a journal box, in place.

Derived termsEdit


See alsoEdit





keep (genitive keebi, partitive keepi)

  1. cloak, capote, gaberdine


This noun needs an inflection-table template.

Middle EnglishEdit



  1. note
    take keep — “take note”
    • Chaucer, G.P. 503-4:
      And shame it is, if a preest take keep
      A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep

Yucatec MayaEdit



keep (plural keepo’ob)

  1. (anatomy) penis