Definition of “hold” - English Dictionary

“hold” in English

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uk /həʊld/ us /hoʊld/ held, held

hold verb (SUPPORT)

A2 [ T ] to take and keep something in your hand or arms:

Can you hold the bag while I open the door?
He was holding a gun.
The little girl held her mother's hand.
He held her in his arms.
[ + obj + adj ] Could you hold the door open, please?
Rosie held out an apple for the horse.
All those who agree, please hold up your hand (= raise your arm).

[ T ] to support something:

Will the rope be strong enough to hold my weight?
Each wheel is held on with four bolts.
The parts are held together with glue.
hold your nose

to press your nose tightly between thumb and finger in order to close it:

I have to hold my nose when I jump into water.
hold hands

A2 When two people hold hands, one person holds the other person's hand, especially to show that they love each other:

They walked along holding hands.
See also

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hold verb (CONTAIN)

B1 [ T not continuous ] to contain or be able to contain something:

This jug holds exactly one pint.
One bag won't hold all of the shopping - we'd better take two.
Computers can hold huge amounts of information.

[ T not continuous ] If you say that the future holds something, you mean that that thing will happen:

Who can tell what the future holds?

[ T not continuous ] to have a particular quality:

She's very religious, so death holds no fear for her.

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hold verb (CONTROL)

C1 [ T ] to have something, especially a position or money, or to control something:

The bank holds large reserves of gold.
Despite incurring heavy losses, the rebels now hold the town and the surrounding hills.

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hold verb (KEEP)

C1 [ T ] to keep something, especially when it might have been lost:

I asked the shop to hold the dress for me until this afternoon.
You have to be a fairly good speaker to hold an audience's attention/interest.

B2 [ T ] to keep someone in a place so that they cannot leave:

The police are holding several people in custody (= at the police station) for questioning.
I was held prisoner in a tiny attic room.

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uk /həʊld/ us /hoʊld/

hold noun (SUPPORT)

B2 [ S or U ] the act of holding something or someone, or the way you do this:

Keep a tight hold on your tickets.
Don't worry if you lose hold of the reins - the horse won't wander off.
catch/get/grab/take hold of sth/sb

B2 to start holding something or someone:

He took hold of one end of the carpet and tugged.
I just managed to grab hold of Lucy before she fell in the pool.

[ C ] in fighting sports, a position in which one person holds another person so that they cannot move

[ C ] a place to put the hands and feet, especially when climbing

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hold noun (DELAY)

on hold

C1 If you are on hold when using the phone, you are waiting to speak to someone:

Mr Briggs is on hold.
He's on the phone at the moment- can I put you on hold?

C1 If an activity is on hold, it has been intentionally delayed:

Everything's on hold again because of the bad weather.
The movie has been put on hold until the financial situation improves.

(Definition of “hold” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“hold” in American English

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us /hoʊld/ past tense and past participle held /held/

hold verb (TAKE FIRMLY)

[ I/T ] to take and keep something in your hand or arms:

[ T ] The nurse held the child in her arms.
[ I ] Hold tight (= firmly) to the railing.

[ I/T ] If you hold your nose, you press your nose tightly between thumb and finger to close it.

hold hands

When two people hold hands, each one takes the other person’s hand in his or her hand, esp. to show affection.

hold verb (MOVE AWAY)

[ always + adv/prep ] to move something away from your body:

[ M ] Rosie held an apple out to the horse.
[ M ] Close your eyes and hold out your hands.
[ M ] All those who agree, please hold your hand up.

hold verb (KEEP IN PLACE)

[ always + adv/prep ] to keep something in a particular place or position:

[ M ] Could you hold the door open for me, please?
[ M ] I can’t fasten this skirt unless I hold my stomach in (= keep it tight with my muscles so that it does not stick out).
[ M ] Each wheel is held on by/with four bolts.
[ M ] Individual parts are held together with glue.
[ I ] Hold still (= Do not move)!

hold verb (CONTINUE)

[ I/T ] to continue or cause to continue in the same way as before:

[ I ] If the weather holds, we can go sailing.
[ T ] The ship held its course.
[ T ] She seemed to hold the note she was singing for more than a minute.
holds true

If something holds true, it continues to be true:

Einstein’s theories still hold true today.

hold verb (DELAY)

[ I/T ] to stop something from happening, or to delay something temporarily:

[ T ] How long can you hold your breath?

[ I/T ] Someone on the telephone who asks you to hold wants you to wait until that person or someone else can speak to you:

[ I ] Her line is busy, would you like to hold?

[ I/T ] If you hold something that is usually included in food, you do not include it:

[ T ] I’d like a salad, but hold the dressing.


[ T ] to support or contain something or be able to contain or support it:

This bottle holds exactly one pint.
Modern computers can hold (= store) huge amounts of information.
Will the rope be strong enough to hold the weight?
holds promise

If something holds promise, it is likely to be successful:

The new drug holds promise for relieving chronic pain.

hold verb (CONTROL)

[ T ] to keep control or possession of something:

His speech held the audience’s attention for over an hour.
He was held prisoner for three days.
After many days of fighting, the rebels now hold the town.
The champion held the lead until the last lap.

[ T ] If someone who committed a crime is held, that person is kept guarded in a police station.

[ T ] If you hold a job or a financial account, you have it:

She holds three different accounts with the same bank.

hold verb (CAUSE TO HAPPEN)

[ T ] to organize or cause a meeting, election, or social event to happen:

The election will be held on the 8th of November.
We’re holding our annual New Year’s Day party again.

hold verb (BELIEVE)

[ T ] to believe an idea or opinion to be correct, or to state that something is true:

He holds unpopular views on many subjects.
I hold him responsible for the damage to my car.
[ + that clause ] Murphy’s law holds that if anything can go wrong, it probably will.


us /hoʊld/

hold noun (FIRM SUPPORT)

[ U ] the act of taking and keeping something in your hand or arms, or the way you do this:

Don’t lose hold of the dog’s leash.
If you can get/grab/take hold of that end of the box, I’ll take this end and we’ll lift it.

hold noun (DELAY)

on hold

If something is on hold, it is intentionally delayed:

The space launch is on hold until the weather clears.

If you are on hold when using the telephone, you are waiting to speak to someone:

His line is busy – can I put you on hold?

hold noun (CONTROL)

[ U ] control or power over something or someone:

The team is strengthening its hold on first place.
She has a strong hold on her daughters.

hold noun (SPACE)

[ C ] the space in a ship or aircraft where goods are carried


[ C ] (in some sports) a position in which one person prevents another from moving:

In karate, beginners learn several simple holds.

(Definition of “hold” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

“hold” in Business English

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uk /həʊld/ us held, held

[ T ] to have something, especially a position or money, or to control something:

hold power/control The CEO holds power only as long as the directors approve of his methods.
hold a stake/an interest/shares The bank holds an interest in the real estate company.
hold a position/job/post Before taking his present post, he held the position of chief financial regulator.
hold a mortgage/loan She holds the mortgage, so she has the right to foreclose on the property.
hold the rights to sth Who holds the rights to screen these games?
hold a patent The world's largest biotech firm holds patents on the DNA sequences of thousands of varieties of grain.

[ T ] to keep something, especially when it might be needed in the future:

Accountants recommend holding records for more than seven years.
Ten seats are being held for the chief executives.
hold stocks/supplies We hold large stocks of all these items, and are generally able to guarantee next-day delivery.

[ T ] FINANCE to keep money or an investment, and not sell it:

We'll hold the bonds until the resale market improves.
For these stocks, the recommendation is: Hold!
See also

[ T ] to contain or be able to contain a number of people or things:

Each container can hold 500 pounds of cargo.
The auditorium is designed to hold 1,000 people.

[ T ] MEETINGS to make an event, especially a meeting, happen:

The software development conference is scheduled to be held in San Francisco in April.

[ I or T ] FINANCE to stay, or make something stay, at the same level as before:

hold a rate/price/tax The Federal Reserve held interest rates at 3%.
The Chancellor is expected to hold capital gains tax at its present rate.
The markets held steady, despite the report of higher inflation.

[ T ] LAW to make a judgment in a court of law:

A superior court judge held that the plaintiff had no legal claim to royalties.

[ I or T ] COMMUNICATIONS to wait when you are phoning until you can talk to the person that you want to speak to:

He'll answering another call right now. Can you hold?
Please hold the line. I'll try to connect you.
hold all the cards

to be in a strong position when you are competing with someone else, because you have all the advantages:

Management holds all the cards when it comes to the negotiations over job cuts.
hold the floor

MEETINGS to speak in a formal situation, such as at a conference or meeting:

Martin held the floor for almost an hour.
hold down the fort UK hold the fort

WORKPLACE to deal with a situation, or do someone's job, while they are away:

She went off on vacation, leaving me to hold down the fort.
Will you hold the fort while I go for lunch?
hold your ground

to keep or defend an opinion or an idea, even when other people do not agree with you:

We'll hold our ground until they accept our changes to the contract.
hold sb's hand

to help someone to do something, especially when it is a new or difficult task:

A call center technician held my hand as he talked me through installing the hardware.
You shouldn't really need your boss to hold your hand any longer.
hold office

GOVERNMENT, POLITICS to have a position of authority, especially in government:

A president can only hold office for two terms of four years each.
Things were not very different when the previous government held office.
hold your own

to continue to be in a strong or fairly strong position, even when there are difficulties:

hold your own against sb/sth They held their own against heavily marketed overseas brands.
hold the purse strings

to control when and how money is spent:

Head office holds the purse strings, and we'll need approval to buy any new equipment.
hold the reins

to be in control of something:

He currently holds the reins at one of the fastest growing mobile communications businesses in the country.
hold sth in reserve

to keep something until a time when it is needed for a particular purpose:

Four million additional tons of grain are held in reserve each month.
hold sway

formal to have control or influence over someone or something:

Party leaders held sway over the hearings.
hold title

PROPERTY to have or control the rights to land, buildings, or other property:

hold title to sth She held title to the property and all mineral rights.
hold (its) value

to not fall in price:

The older models haven't held value as much as collectors anticipated.


uk /həʊld/ us

[ S ] power or control over someone or something:

a hold over sb/sth With the new law, Congress strengthened its hold over mortgage rates.
a hold on sth They're keeping their strong hold on the smartphone market.
a strong/tight hold
keep/tighten/lose your hold

[ C or U ] STOCK MARKET a suggestion that someone should not sell the shares that they own in a company, but that they should not buy any new shares:

Analysts changed "buys" to "holds" after the annual report appeared.
We have recently downgraded our recommendation for the Forest Group to "Hold".
See also

[ C ] BANKING a delay by a bank to prevent money from being taken from an account:

It took three days for the hold on the payment to be cleared.

[ C ] TRANSPORT the place on a ship or aircraft where goods are carried:

Inspectors examined the hold to look for stowaways.
on hold

not being done now, but perhaps being done later:

Any new building has been put on hold until the economy improves.

not changing or moving:

The dollar is on hold at the same level it was at a year ago.

COMMUNICATIONS waiting for someone to return to or to begin a phone conversation:

Technical support had me on hold for 20 minutes while they researched my question.
I'll just put you on hold while I ask my manager about this.
take hold

to start to have an effect:

New stimulus funds took hold in time to keep unemployment low.

(Definition of “hold” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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We have a responsibility to encourage those who now hold power to make choices that are in the best interests of that country and the region as a whole.
Even so, nobody is authorised to hold court and to pass judgment based on suppositions and suspicions, just on the basis of some newspaper articles.
From this point of view, we must be sure to keep a firm hold on strict conditions when licensing railway undertakings.
What is perhaps most remarkable about this is that there are so few countries which can sue legal persons and hold companies liable.
The problems and hold-ups we encounter in our endeavours to make our common institutions more effective, more democratic and closer to the citizens are a striking illustration of this.
We hold the view that, overall, the agreement is balanced and provides an appropriate basis for restoring national ownership of the fiscal framework.
You might not like it that they believe the scriptures, you might not like what the scriptures say, but they have a right to hold those views.
We must stop this practice and take seriously, rather than trivialise, criticism in respect of mistakes perpetrated by those we hold dear.
We need to hold a dialogue on traditional terminology, certifications and wine-making practices and, in particular, it is necessary to create a joint committee for wine-making issues.
Believing in human rights means being ready to accept criticisms and working every day to strengthen respect for the freedoms that we all hold dear.