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Keep (verb active)

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 1146, 1147

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 1146, 1147

To Keep. v.a. [cpan, Saxon; kepen, old Dutch.]

  1. To retain; not to lose.

    I kept the field with the death of some, and flight of others. Sidney, b. ii.

    We have examples in the primitive church of such as by fear being compelled to sacrifice to strange gods repented, and kept still the office of preaching the gospel. Whitgift.

    Keep in memory what I preached unto you. 1 Cor. xv. 2.

    This charge I keep till my appointed day
    Of rend'ring up.
    Milton.

    His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal. Milton.

    You have lost a child; but you have kept one child, and are likely to do so long. Temple's Miscel.

    If we would weigh, and keep in our minds, what we are considering, that would instruct us when we should, or should not, branch into distinctions. Locke.

  2. To have in custody.

    The crown of Stephanus, first king of Hungary, was always kept in the castle of Vicegrade. Knolles.

    She kept the fatal key. Milton.

  3. To preserve; not to let go.

    These men of war that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron. 1 Chron. xii. 38.

    The Lord God merciful and gracious, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity. Exod. xxxiv. 7.

    I spared it greatly, and have kept me a grape of the cluster, and a plant of a great people. 2 Esdr. ix. 21.

  4. To preserve in a state of security.

    We passed by where the duke keeps his gallies. Addison.

  5. To protect; to guard.

    Behold I am with thee to keep thee. Gen. xxviii.

  6. To guard from flight.

    Paul dwelt with a soldier that kept him. Acts xxviii. 16.

  7. To detain.

    But what's the cause that keeps you here with me?
    — That I may know what keeps me here with you.
    Dryden.

  8. To hold for another.

    A man delivers money or stuff to keep. Exod. xxii. 7.

    Reserv'd from night, and kept for thee in store. Milton.

  9. To reserve; to conceal.

    Some are so close and reserved, as they will not shew their wares but by a dark light; and seem always to keep back somewhat. Bacon's Essays, № 27.

  10. To tend.

    God put him in the garden of Eden to keep it. Gen. ii. 15.

    While in her girlish age she kept sheep on the moor, it chanced that a merchant saw and liked her. Carew.

                          Count it thine
    To till and keep, and of the fruit to eat.
    Milton.

  11. To preserve in the same tenour or state.

    To know the true state, I will keep this order. Bacon.

    Take this at least, this last advice my son,
    Keep a stiff rein, and move but gently on:
    The coursers of themselves will run too fast,
    Your art must be to moderate their haste.
    Addison's Ovid.

  12. To regard; to attend.

    While the stars and course of heav'n I keep,
    My weary'd eyes were seiz'd with fatal sleep.
    Dryden.

    If that idea be steadily kept to, the distinction will easily be conceived. Locke.

  13. To not suffer to fail.

    My mercy will I keep for him for ever. Psal. lxxxix.

    Shall truth fail to keep her word? Milton.

  14. To hold in any state.

    Ingenuous shame, and the apprehensions of displeasure, are the only true restraints: these alone ought to hold the reins, and keep the child in order. Locke on Education.

    Men are guilty of many faults in the exercise of this faculty of the mind, which keep them in ignorance. Locke.

    Happy souls! who keep such a sacred dominion over their inferior and animal powers, that the sensitive tumults never rise to disturb the superior and better operations of the reasoning mind. Watt's Improvement of the Mind.

  15. To retain by some degree of force in any place or state.

    Plexirtus, said he, this wickedness is found by thee; no good deeds of mine have been able to keep it down in thee. Sidney, b. ii.

    It is hardly to be thought that any governor should so much malign his successor, as to suffer an evil to grow up which he might timely have kept under; or perhaps nourish it with coloured countenance of such sinister means. Spenser.

    What old acquaintance! could not all this flesh
    Keep in a little life? Poor Jack, farewel.
    Shakespeare.

    Venus took the guard of noble Hector's corse,
    And kept the dogs off: night and day applying sovereign force
    Of rosy balms, that to the dogs were horrible in taste.
    Chapman's Iliad.

    The Chinese sail where they will; which sheweth that their law of keeping out strangers is a law of pusillanimity and fear. Bacon's New Atlantis.

    And those that cannot live from him asunder,
    Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under.
    Milton.

    If any ask me what wou'd satisfy,
    To make life easy, thus I would reply:
    As much as keeps out hunger, thirst, and cold.
    Dryden.

    Matters, recommended by our passions, take possession of our minds, and will not be kept out. Locke.

    Prohibited commodities should be kept out, and useless ones impoverish us by being brought in. Locke.

    An officer with one of these unbecoming qualities, is looked upon as a proper person to keep off impertinence and solicitation from his superior. Addison's Spectator.

    And if two boots keep out the weather,
    What need you have two hides of leather.
    Prior.

    We have it in our power to keep in our breaths, and to suspend the efficacy of this natural function. Cheyne.

  16. To continue any state or action.

    The house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom. 2 Chron. xxii. 9.

    Men gave ear, waited, and kept silence at my counsel. Job xxix. 21.

    Auria made no stay, but still kept on his course, and with a fair gale came directly towards Carone. Knolles.

    It was then such a calm, that the ships were not able to keep way with the gallies. Knolles's Hist. of the Turks.

    The moon that distance keeps till night. Milton.

    An heap of ants on a hillock will more easily be kept to an uniformity in motion than these. Glanville's Scep.

                    He dy'd in fight:
    Fought next my person, as in consort fought:
    Kept pace for pace, and blow for blow.
    Dryden.

    He, being come to the estate, keeps on a very busy family; the markets are weekly frequented, and the commodities of his farm carried out and sold. Locke.

    Invading foes, without resistance,
    With ease I make to keep their distance.
    Swift.

  17. To preserve in any state.

    My son, keep the flower of thine age sound. Ecclus. xxvi.

  18. To practise; to use habitually.

    I rule the family very ill, and keep bad hours. Pope.

  19. To copy carefully.

    Her servants eyes were fix'd upon her face,
    And as she mov'd or turn'd, her motions view'd,
    Her measures kept, and step by step pursu'd.
    Dryden.

  20. To observe any time.

    This shall be for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord. Exod. xii. 14.

    That day was not in silence holy kept. Milton.

  21. To observe; not to violate.

                                      It cannot be,
    The king should keep his word in loving us;
    He will suspect us still, and find a time
    To punish this offence in other faults.
    Shakespeare.

    Sworn for three years term to live with me,
    My fellow scholars; and to keep those statutes
    That are recorded in this schedule here.
    Shakespeare.

    Lord God, there is none like thee: who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants. 1 Kings viii. 23.

    Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant that thou promisedst him. 1 Kings viii. 25.

    Obey and keep his great command. Milton.

    His promise Palamon accepts; but pray'd
    To keep it better than the first he made.
    Dryden.

    My debtors do not keep their day,
    Deny their hands and then refuse to pay.
    Dryden's Juv.

                              My wishes are,
    That Ptolemy may keep his royal word.
    Dryden.

  22. To maintain; to support with necessaries of life.

    Much more affliction than already felt
    They cannot well impose, nor I sustain,
    If they intend advantage of my labours,
    The work of many hands, which earns my keeping.
    Milt.

  23. To have in the house.

    Base tyke, call'st thou me host? I scorn the term; nor shall my Nell keep lodgers. Shakespeare's Henry V.

  24. Not to intermit.

    Keep a sure watch over a shameless daughter, lest she make thee a laughing-stock to thine enemies, and a bye-word in the city. Ecclus. xli. 11.

    Not keeping strictest watch as she was warn'd. Milton.

  25. To maintain; to hold.

    They were honourably brought to London, where every one of them kept house by himself. Hayward.

    Twelve Spartan virgins, noble, young, and fair,
    To the pompous palace did resort,
    Where Menelaus kept his royal court.
    Dryden.

  26. To remain in; not to leave a place.

    I pry'thee, tell me, doth he keep his bed. Shakespeare.

  27. Not to reveal; not to betray.

    A fool cannot keep counsel. Ecclus. viii. 17.

    Great are thy virtues, though kept from man. Milton.

    If he were wise, he would keep all this to himself. Tillots.

  28. To restrain; to with-hold.

    If any rebel or vain spirit of mine
    Did, with the least affection of a welcome,
    Give entertainment to the might of it;
    Let heav'n for ever keep it from my head.
    Shakespeare.

    Some obscure passages in the inspir'd volume keep from the knowledge of divine mysteries. Boyle on Scripture.

    If the God of this world did not blind their eyes, it would be impossible, so long as men love themselves, to keep them from being religious. Tillotson's Sermons.

    There is no virtue children should be excited to, nor fault they should be kept from, which they may not be convinced of by reasons. Locke on Education.

    If a child be constantly kept from drinking cold liquor whilst he is hot, the custom of forbearing will preserve him. Locke.

    By this they may keep them from little faults. Locke.

  29. To debar from any place.

    Ill senc'd for heav'n to keep out such a foe. Milton.

  30. To Keep back. To reserve; to with-hold.

    Whatsoever the Lord shall answer, I will declare: I will keep nothing back from you. Jer. xlii. 4.

  31. To Keep back. To with-hold; to restrain.

    Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins. Psal. xix.

  32. To Keep company. To frequent any one; to accompany.

    Heav'n doth know, so shall the world perceive,
    That I have turn'd away from my former self,
    So will I those that kept me company.
    Shakesp. Henry IV.

    Why should he call her whore? Who keeps her company?
    What place? what time?
    Shakesp. Othello.

    What mean'st thou, bride! this company to keep?
    To sit up, till thou fain would sleep?
    Donne.

              Neither will I wretched thee
    In death forsake, but keep thee company.
    Dryden.

  33. To Keep company with. To have familiar intercourse.

    A virtuous woman is obliged not only to avoid immodesty, but the appearance of it; and she could not approve of a young woman keeping company with men, without the permission of father or mother. Broome's Notes on the Odyssey.

  34. To Keep in. To conceal; not to tell.

    I perceive in you so excellent a touch of modesty, that you will not extort from me what I am willing to keep in. Shak.

    Syphax, your zeal becomes importunate:
    I've hitherto permitted it to rave,
    And talk at large, but learn to keep it in,
    Lest it should take more freedom than I'll give it.
    Addison.

  35. To Keep in. To restrain; to curb.

    If thy daughter be shameless, keep her in straightly, lest she abuse herself through over-much liberty. Ecclus. xxvi. 13.

    It will teach them to keep in, and so master their inclinations. Locke on Education.

  36. To Keep off. To bear to distance; not to admit.

  37. To Keep off. To hinder.

    A superficial reading, accompanied with the common opinion of his invincible obscurity, has kept off some from seeking in him the coherence of his discourse. Locke.

  38. To Keep up. To maintain without abatement.

    Land kept up its price, and sold for more years purchase than corresponded to the interest of money. Locke.

    This restraint of their tongues will keep up in them the respect and reverence due to their parents. Locke.

    Albano keeps up its credit still for wine. Addison.

    This dangerous dissension among us we keep up and cherish with much pains. Addison's Freeholder, № 34.

    The ancients were careful to coin money in due weight and fineness, and keep it up to the standard. Arbuthnot.

  39. To Keep up. To continue; to hinder from ceasing.

    You have enough to keep you alive, and to keep up and improve your hopes of heaven. Taylor's holy living.

    In joy, that which keeps up the action is the desire to continue it. Locke.

    Young heirs, from their own reflecting upon the estates they are born to, are of no use but to keep up their families, and transmit their land and houses in a line to posterity. Addison's Spect. № 123.

    During his studies and travels he kept up a punctual correspondence with Eudoxus. Addison.

  40. To Keep under. To oppress; to subdue.

    O happy mixture! whereby things contrary do so qualify and correct the one the danger of the other's excess, that neither boldness can make us presume, as long as we are kept under with the sense of our own wretchedness; nor, while we trust in the mercy of God through Christ Jesus, fear be able to tyrannize over us. Hooker, b. v.

    Truth may be smothered a long time, and kept under by violence; but it will break out at last. Stillingfleet.

    To live like those that have their hope in another life, implies, that we keep under our appetites, and do not let them loose into the enjoyments of sense. Atterbury's Sermons.

Sources: The Bible - 1. Chronicles (4) · The Bible - 1. Corinthians (15) · The Bible - 1. Kings (7) · The Bible - 2. Chronicles (5) · The Bible - 2. Esdras (5) · The Bible - Acts (20) · Addison, Joseph (408) · Arbuthnot, John (227) · Atterbury, Francis (75) · Bacon, Francis (396) · Boyle, Robert (84) · Broome, William (16) · Carew, Thomas (36) · Chapman, George (6) · Cheyne, George (26) · Donne, John (44) · Dryden, John (788) · The Bible - Ecclesiasticus (27) · The Bible - Exodus (25) · The Bible - Genesis (48) · Glanvill, Joseph (53) · Hayward, John (42) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 (46) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (72) · Shakespeare's Henry V (66) · Hooker, Richard (175) · The Bible - Jeremiah (13) · The Bible - Job (27) · Knolles, Richard (44) · Locke, John (269) · Shakespeare's Love's Labours Lost (33) · Milton, John (449) · Shakespeare's Othello (60) · Pope, Alexander (393) · Prior, Matthew (162) · The Bible - Psalms (29) · Sidney, Philip (140) · Spectator (140) · Spenser, Edmund (254) · Stillingfleet, Edward (38) · Swift, Jonathan (306) · Taylor, Jeremy (57) · Temple, William (54) · Tillotson, John (68) · Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (36) · Watts, Isaac (117) · Whitgift, John (6)

Attributes: Dutch (90) · Saxon (215) · Verb Active (289)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Keep (verb active)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: February 17, 2014. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=3138.


  1. The quote “Keep a sure watch over a shameless daughter, lest she make thee a laughing-stock to thine enemies, and a bye-word in the city” comes from Ecclesiasticus xlii. 11, not xli. 11.

  2. Brandi on April 24th, 2013 at 11:26 am

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