AskDefine | Define keep

Dictionary Definition



1 the financial means whereby one lives; "each child was expected to pay for their keep"; "he applied to the state for support"; "he could no longer earn his own livelihood" [syn: support, livelihood, living, bread and butter, sustenance]
2 the main tower within the walls of a medieval castle or fortress [syn: donjon, dungeon]
3 a cell in a jail or prison [syn: hold]


1 keep in a certain state, position, or activity; e.g., "keep clean"; "hold in place"; "She always held herself as a lady"; "The students keep me on my toes" [syn: maintain, hold]
2 continue a certain state, condition, or activity; "Keep on working!"; "We continued to work into the night"; "Keep smiling"; "We went on working until well past midnight" [syn: continue, go on, proceed, go along] [ant: discontinue]
3 retain possession of; "Can I keep my old stuffed animals?"; "She kept her maiden name after she married" [syn: hold on] [ant: lose]
4 prevent from doing something or being in a certain state; "We must prevent the cancer from spreading"; "His snoring kept me from falling asleep"; "Keep the child from eating the marbles" [syn: prevent] [ant: let]
5 conform one's action or practice to; "keep appointments"; "she never keeps her promises"; "We kept to the original conditions of the contract" [syn: observe]
6 observe correctly or closely; "The pianist kept time with the metronome"; "keep count"; "I cannot keep track of all my employees" [syn: observe, maintain]
7 look after; be the keeper of; have charge of; "He keeps the shop when I am gone"
8 maintain by writing regular records; "keep a diary"; "maintain a record"; "keep notes" [syn: maintain]
9 supply with room and board; "He is keeping three women in the guest cottage"; "keep boarders"
10 allow to remain in a place or position; "We cannot continue several servants any longer"; "She retains a lawyer"; "The family's fortune waned and they could not keep their household staff"; "Our grant has run out and we cannot keep you on"; "We kept the work going as long as we could" [syn: retain, continue, keep on, keep going]
11 supply with necessities and support; "She alone sustained her family"; "The money will sustain our good cause"; "There's little to earn and many to keep" [syn: sustain, maintain]
12 fail to spoil or rot; "These potatoes keep for a long time" [syn: stay fresh]
13 celebrate, as of holidays or rites; "Keep the commandments"; "celebrate Christmas"; "Observe Yom Kippur" [syn: observe, celebrate]
14 keep under control; keep in check; "suppress a smile"; "Keep your temper"; "keep your cool" [syn: restrain, suppress, keep back, hold back]
15 maintain in safety from injury, harm, or danger; "May God keep you" [syn: preserve]
16 raise; "She keeps a few chickens in the yard"; "he keeps bees"
17 retain rights to; "keep my job for me while I give birth"; "keep my seat, please"; "keep open the possibility of a merger" [syn: keep open, hold open, save]
18 store or keep customarily; "Where do you keep your gardening tools?"
19 have as a supply; "I always keep batteries in the freezer"; "keep food for a week in the pantry"; "She keeps a sixpack and a week's worth of supplies in the refrigerator"
20 maintain for use and service; "I keep a car in the countryside"; "She keeps an apartment in Paris for her shopping trips" [syn: maintain]
21 hold and prevent from leaving; "The student was kept after school"
22 prevent (food) from rotting; "preserved meats"; "keep potatoes fresh" [syn: preserve] [also: kept]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a UK , /kiːp/, /ki:p/
  • a US , /kip/, /kip/
  • Rhymes: -iːp




  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.
  3. transitive 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.
  4. To restrain.
    I keep my brother out of trouble by keeping him away from his friends and hard at work.
  5. To continue.
    I keep taking the tablets, but to no avail.
  6. In the context of "intransitive|cricket": To act as wicket-keeper.
    Godfrey Evans kept for England for many years.
  7. transitive of livestock to raise; to care for
    • 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.''


to maintain possession of
  • Chinese: 保持 (bǎochí)
  • Finnish: pitää
  • French: garder
  • German: behalten
  • Russian: хранить
  • Spanish: guardar
  • Swedish: hålla, behålla
  • West Frisian: hâlde
to maintain the condition of; to preserve
to remain in, to be confined to
  • Finnish: pysyä
  • Spanish: permanecer
to restrain
to continue
to act as wicket-keeper
of livestock: to raise; to care for
  • Spanish: criar


  1. The main tower of a castle or fortress, located within the castle walls.
  2. Support.
    He works as a cobbler's apprentice for his keep.


main tower
  • Finnish: elanto
  • German: Lebensunterhalt

See also


Middle English

  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

Extensive Definition

As nobles became more interested in grand halls and comfortable living quarters, the keep lost its domestic role. Although keeps continued to be used and built, there is evidence that many had a reduced role, demonstrated by the lack of residential amenities in the tower plans, such as latrines and chimneys.
In Western Europe, however, the defensible residential keep experienced a resurgence before the end of the medieval period, as towers were built to house nobles and their retinues securely, but at a very high level of comfort and luxury (e.g. Raglan Castle, Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Chateau de Vincennes, and Château de Largoët). This luxurious type was particularly popular in late medieval Scotland up until the 1600s (e.g. Craigievar Castle). Another word for this type of keep is the tower house.

Notable types

Norman or Romanesque keep

An archetypical form for the keep in the British Isles is the Norman keep, so-called because they were built throughout England and Ireland by Norman nobles. Norman keeps usually have several distinguishing features in common and the type was very popular during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Most have towers at each corner, which usually extend above the main keep to form watchtowers. In many cases spiral staircases were contained in or near these corner towers. Another common feature was the forebuilding, which contained the entryway to the keep, its most vulnerable point. This structure extended from the side of the keep and often, was approached by stairs, as the entryway usually was above ground level. Sometimes a drawbridge guarded the top of the stairs. One of the most famous keeps in Europe is the White Tower of The Tower of London, constructed by William the Conqueror in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest.
The cylindrical donjon of Rouen, shown above, is all that remains of the large city fortress where Joan of Arc was imprisoned during her trial for heresy.
Shown to the right is the tallest keep remaining in existence, the donjon of Château de Vincennes, which is located in a suburb of contemporary Paris. Previously this distinction was held the donjon of Coucy in Picardy.


See also

keep in Belarusian: Данжон
keep in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Данжон
keep in Bulgarian: Донжон
keep in Catalan: Donjon
keep in Czech: Donjon
keep in Danish: Donjon
keep in German: Donjon
keep in Spanish: Torre del homenaje
keep in French: Donjon
keep in Italian: Maschio (architettura)
keep in Hebrew: מגדל עוז (ביצור)
keep in Lithuanian: Donžonas
keep in Hungarian: Öregtorony
keep in Dutch: Donjon
keep in Japanese: ダンジョン
keep in Polish: Stołp
keep in Portuguese: Torre de menagem
keep in Russian: Донжон
keep in Swedish: Kärntorn
keep in Ukrainian: Донжон

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

POW camp, TLC, abide, abide by, abstain, accede to, accommodate, accommodation, accommodations, accumulate, acknowledge, acropolis, act up to, adhere to, administer Communion, afford, afford support, agree to, aliment, alimentation, alimony, amass, arm, armor, arrest, attend Communion, attend Mass, attend to, attend to orders, backlog, balance, ballast, bastille, bastion, be faithful to, beachhead, bear, bear in mind, bear out, bear up, beat the drum, bed, bed and board, bide, bit, black hole, bless, block, blockhouse, blow the trumpet, board, board and room, bolster, bolster up, borstal, borstal institution, bosom, bottle up, box up, bread, bread and butter, breed, bridewell, bridgehead, bridle, brig, brood over, bunker, buttress, cage, camouflage, can, care, care for, carry, carry on, castle, celebrate, celebrate Mass, cell, champion, charge, check, cherish, citadel, cling to, clink, clip, cloak, cloister, clothe, collect, commemorate, communicate, compass about, comply, comply with, conceal, concentration camp, condemned cell, conduct, confine, conform, conform to, consecrate, conserve, constrain, contain, continue, continue to be, control, cool, cool off, cooler, coop, coop in, coop up, copyright, cork up, counterbalance, cover, crib, crutch, culture, cumulate, curb, curtail, cushion, custodianship, custody, daily bread, death cell, death house, death row, decelerate, defeat time, defend, defer to, defy time, deny, detain, detention camp, deter, direct, disallow, discourage, do justice to, dompt, donate, donjon, dress ship, dungeon, dwell, dwell on, dwell upon, economic support, embosom, embrace, encage, enclose, endow, endowment, endure, enjoin, enjoy, ensure, entertain, exist, extend, facilities, fan the embers, farm, fasthold, fastness, fatten, federal prison, feed, fence, fence in, fend, fill, fill up, finance, find, fire a salute, firm, firm up, follow, follow the book, fondle, food, forbear, forbid, forced-labor camp, fort, fortress, foster, freeze, fulfill, fund, furnish, gaol, garner, garner up, garrison, garrison house, gather into barns, give, give support, go on, govern, grow, guarantee, guard, guardhouse, guarding, hallow, hang on to, harbor, harken to, hatch, have, have and hold, have in mind, haven, heap up, heed, hem in, hide, hinder, hoard, hoard up, hold, hold at bay, hold back, hold by, hold down, hold fast, hold in, hold in check, hold in custody, hold in leash, hold in mind, hold in restraint, hold jubilee, hold on, hold on to, hold out, hold up, honor, house of correction, house of detention, hug, husband, immobilize, immure, impound, imprison, incarcerate, industrial school, inhibit, insure, internment camp, invest, jail, jailhouse, jubilate, jubilize, jug, keep alive, keep back, keep by one, keep dark, keep faith with, keep from, keep from harm, keep going, keep in, keep in check, keep in custody, keep in detention, keep in memory, keep in mind, keep in reserve, keep in store, keep in view, keep intact, keep inviolate, keep on, keep on hand, keep out, keep safe, keep the faith, keep under control, keep up, keeping, labor camp, last, last long, last out, laud, lay by, lay under restraint, lay up, lend support, lengthen, listen to, live, live on, live through, live up to, livelihood, living, lock in, lockup, lodgings, look after, maffick, maintain, maintenance, make available, make good, make merry, make provision for, make safe, manage, manna, mark, martello, martello tower, mask, maximum-security prison, meat, meet, memorialize, mew, mew up, mind, minimum-security prison, mote, mothering, motte, muzzle, nail down, nestle, not destroy, not endanger, not expend, not use up, not waste, nourish, nourishment, nurse, nurture, nutriment, obey, obey the rules, observe, obstruct, operate, ordain, oubliette, own, pabulum, pap, patent, pay attention to, peel, peel tower, pen, pen up, penal colony, penal institution, penal settlement, penitentiary, perdure, perennate, perpetuate, persist, persist in, pile up, pillbox, pin down, pokey, police, possess, post, pound, praise, prepare, present, preserve, prevail, prevent, preventive custody, price support, prison, prison camp, prisonhouse, prohibit, prolong, prop, prop up, protect, protection, protective custody, protract, provide, provide for, provision, pull, pull in, put apart, put aside, put away, put by, put up, rail in, raise, ranch, rath, rear, receive the Sacrament, recruit, refection, reform school, reformatory, refreshment, regard, register, rein, rein in, reinforce, remain, replenish, repress, reserve, respect, restrain, restrict, retain, retard, retrench, ride shotgun for, run, run on, safeguard, safehold, safekeeping, sanctify, satisfy, save, save up, screen, seal up, secrete, secure, set apart, set aside, set back, set by, shackle, shelter, shield, shore, shore up, shroud, shut in, shut up, signalize, slow down, smother, snub, solemnize, solemnly mark, sound a fanfare, spare, sponging house, squirrel, squirrel away, stabilitate, stabilize, stand, stand up, state prison, stay, stay in line, stay on, steady, stick, stifle, stir, stock, stock up, stockade, stockpile, store, store up, stow away, straiten, strong point, stronghold, submit, subsidization, subsidize, subsidy, subsist, subsistence, subvention, subventionize, supply, support, suppress, survive, sustain, sustainment, sustenance, sustentation, take orders, tarry, tend, tender loving care, the hole, tide over, toe the line, tollbooth, tower, tower of strength, training school, transfix, treasure, treasure up, undergird, underwrite, upbear, uphold, upkeep, victual, wall in, ward, watch over, wear, wear well, withhold, yield
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