keep tabs on



See tab (tablet or slate used for keeping a record of accounts).


  • (file)


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

  1. (idiomatic) To monitor; to keep track of; to watch.
    If you are careful to keep tabs on your finances, you should be able to stay within a budget.
    The police kept close tabs on him during the holidays.
    • 1910, Stewart Edward White, The Rules of the Game ch. 85:
      He might have spent the hours camped under the trees of the more remote meadow, whence in the brilliant moonlight he could keep tabs on the trails.
    • 1919, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Rainbow Valley, ch. 16:
      I'll catch him—I'll trip him up—I'll keep tabs on his arguments.
    • 2010, Andrew Lee Butters, "Why the U.S. Is Back on the Road to Damascus," Time:
      Syria's much feared state-security apparatus keeps close tabs on everyone entering and leaving the embassy.

Usage notesEdit