Definition of KEEP

KEEP Verb and Noun

Keep is a versatile word that functions as both a verb and a noun. As a verb, it means to retain possession of, maintain, or continue to hold onto something. As a noun, it refers to a stronghold or fortress, or the essential provisions necessary for maintaining a living. This word is commonly used in various contexts, from everyday actions to more specific technical or historical references.

KEEP as a verb

Keep as a verb involves various actions related to holding, retaining, or maintaining something. It is widely used in both literal and figurative senses.

Retention and Possession: To keep something means to retain it in one’s possession. This can refer to tangible items, such as keeping a book or keeping a gift, or intangible aspects, like keeping a secret or keeping one’s word. Retaining possession often implies responsibility and care for the item or commitment.

Maintenance and Continuity: Keeping also involves maintaining a certain state or condition. For example, one might keep a house clean, keep the garden well-tended, or keep a machine in good working order. This aspect of keeping emphasizes ongoing effort and attention to sustain a desired state.

Behavior and Habits: People use keep to describe maintaining behaviors or habits. For example, one might keep exercising regularly, keep studying diligently, or keep a positive attitude. This usage underscores persistence and consistency in actions or mindsets.

KEEP as a noun

As a noun, keep has distinct meanings that are more specialized and often historical or contextual.

Fortress or Stronghold: Historically, a keep refers to the central stronghold of a castle, a fortified tower where the lord of the castle would live and where valuables were stored. This usage evokes images of medieval fortifications and defensive structures designed for protection and control.

Essential Provisions: In another sense, keep refers to the essential provisions necessary for living, such as food, shelter, and basic necessities. This usage is often seen in phrases like “earning one’s keep,” which means working to provide for one’s basic needs or contributing to a household in exchange for room and board.

In conclusion, keep serves as both a verb and a noun with a wide range of meanings and applications. As a verb, it encompasses retaining possession, maintaining conditions, and sustaining behaviors. As a noun, it signifies a fortified structure or the essentials required for living. Understanding the diverse uses of keep enhances one’s ability to communicate effectively across different contexts, whether discussing everyday activities, historical structures, or fundamental needs.

KEEP in a sentence

KEEP as a verb in a sentence

  • She likes to keep her room tidy and organized.
  • Please keep the noise down while I’m working.
  • He promised to keep the secret and not tell anyone.
  • The teacher asked the students to keep their hands raised until called upon.
  • It’s important to keep your promises and follow through on commitments.
  • She struggles to keep up with her workload during busy times.
  • The dog helps keep the house safe by barking at strangers.
  • He tries to keep a positive attitude even in difficult situations.

KEEP as a noun in a sentence

  • The old house has a medieval keep that served as a fortress.
  • He placed the keys in the keep to ensure they wouldn’t get lost.
  • The keep of the castle was the last line of defense against invaders.
  • The keep is the oldest part of the fortress, dating back to the 12th century.
  • The soldiers gathered in the keep to prepare for battle.
  • Visitors can explore the dungeon beneath the keep during guided tours.
  • The lord and lady lived in the keep while their servants resided in the surrounding buildings.
  • The keep offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Origin of KEEP

The term keep has a diverse linguistic history, originating from Old English and evolving through various social, legal, and cultural contexts, reflecting its multifaceted meanings and applications over time.

  • Old English Roots: The term “keep” finds its earliest roots in Old English, where it was derived from the word “cēpan,” meaning “to hold,” “to possess,” or “to guard.” In its original context, “keep” denoted the act of holding onto or protecting something.
  • Medieval and Feudal Contexts: During medieval times, particularly in feudal societies, the term “keep” was used to describe the central stronghold or fortified tower within a castle or fortress. The keep served as a stronghold for defense and protection, often housing the lord’s residence and valuable possessions.
  • Legal and Property Connotations: In legal and property contexts, the term “keep” is often used to denote ownership or possession of something, such as land, property, or assets. It implies the act of maintaining or safeguarding something of value.
  • Cultural and Idiomatic Usage: Beyond its literal meanings, the term “keep” has also entered into various idiomatic expressions and cultural references. For example, phrases such as “keeping up with the Joneses” or “keeping a secret” reflect broader cultural concepts related to status, social comparison, and confidentiality.
  • Contemporary Usage: In contemporary usage, the term “keep” retains its original meanings while also adapting to modern contexts. It can refer to physical acts of possession or protection, as well as more abstract concepts such as maintaining control, adhering to standards, or preserving traditions.

The term keep thus represents a linguistic progression from its Old English roots, through medieval, legal, and cultural developments, to its modern usage, where it encompasses a range of meanings related to possession, protection, maintenance, and control.


  • Retain
  • Preserve
  • Maintain
  • Sustain
  • Guard
  • Protect
  • Uphold
  • Conserve


  • Release
  • Let Go
  • Discard
  • Abandon
  • Lose
  • Neglect
  • Surrender
  • Relinquish


  • Keep Going
  • Care For
  • Watch Over
  • Observe
  • Hold Onto
  • Ensure
  • Store
  • Continue

🌐 🇬🇧 KEEP in other languages

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