Definition of “reserve” - English Dictionary

“reserve” in British English

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reserveverb [ T ]

uk /rɪˈzɜːv/ us /rɪˈzɝːv/

B1 to keep something for a particular purpose or time:

I reserve Mondays for tidying my desk and answering letters.
These seats are reserved for the elderly and women with babies.
I reserve judgment on this issue (= I won't give an opinion on it now) until we have more information.

B1 If you reserve something such as a seat on an aircraft or a table at a restaurant, you arrange for it to be kept for your use:

I reserved a double room at the Lamb Hotel.
[ + two objects ] If you get there early, reserve me a seat/reserve a seat for me.

More examples

  • I'm awfully sorry, but we've forgotten to reserve you a table.
  • Could I reserve two seats for tomorrow evening's performance?
  • I've come to collect my tickets - I reserved them by phone yesterday in the name of Tremin.
  • "Had you forgotten about our anniversary?" "Certainly not! I've reserved a table at Michel's restaurant for this evening."
  • The worst of her criticism was reserved for journalists, photographers and others of their ilk.


uk /rɪˈzɜːv/ us /rɪˈzɝːv/

reserve noun (KEEPING)

C2 [ C or U ] the act of keeping something or a supply of something until it is needed, or a supply that you keep:

She keeps a little money in reserve (= for use if and when needed).
The librarian has put the book on reserve for me (= will keep it for me when it becomes available).
We still have a reserve of food/food reserves in case of emergency.

reserve noun (EXTRA PERSON)

[ C ] in sports, an extra player who is ready to play if needed:

We had two reserves in case anyone was injured.
the reserves [ plural ]

a football team consisting of players who are not in the first team, but who play in a league against reserve teams from other clubs:

Frank was a prolific scorer for the reserves before he graduated to the first team.

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

“reserve” in American English

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reserveverb [ I/T ]

us /rɪˈzɜrv/

to keep something for a particular purpose or time:

[ T ] He reserved the right to veto any future plans.

If you reserve something such as a table in a restaurant or a room in a hotel, you arrange for it to be kept for your use at a later time:

[ I ] It’s a popular restaurant, and you’ll have to reserve well in advance.
[ T ] I’m sorry, this seat is reserved.

reservenoun [ C/U ]

us /rɪˈzɜrv/

something kept for a particular purpose or time, or the state of being kept for future use by someone:

[ C ] I have a reserve of food in case of emergency.
[ U ] The book is on reserve and can’t be checked out.
She keeps a little money in reserve (= for use if and when needed).

A reserve (also also preserve) is also an area of land kept for the protection of animals and plants:

[ C ] a nature/game reserve

The reserves are a part of a country’s armed forces that are not always on active duty but are available in an emergency.

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

“reserve” in Business English

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reserveverb [ T ]

uk /rɪˈzɜːv/ us

to keep something for a particular purpose or time:

reserve sth for sb/sth The plan would reserve $1 billion for "long-term capacity improvements".

COMMERCE to arrange for something to be kept for you, for example, a seat on an aircraft or a table at a restaurant:

He's reserved a table for 8pm.
reserve the right to do sth

to state, especially in a written agreement, that you may change something in the future:

I reserve the right to disagree to any future changes in the company structure.
reserve judgement

to not decide on something immediately:

I thought I'd reserve judgement until he'd finished his presentation.


uk /rɪˈzɜːv/ us

[ C ] a supply of something that you have available to use if you need to:

You will need a reasonable reserve of cash to start the process.
coal/oil/fuel reserves
in reserve

kept in order to use later if needed:

They do not have money in reserve like many of the bigger companies.
Land should be kept in reserve at the airport for a second runway which could be built by the mid-2020s.

[ C ] also reserve price COMMERCE the lowest amount of money that the owner will accept for something that is being sold, especially at an auction:

I set the reserve price at $50 in the hope that it would sell for much more.
reserves [ plural ]

BANKING, FINANCE the amount of foreign currency or gold that a central bank has at a particular time:

It has around 8bn dollars in foreign currency reserves.
No country has limitless reserves of gold.

ACCOUNTING money kept by a company for a particular use, for example, a future project or emergency:

use/dip into reserves It became necessary for the company to dip into its reserves.
cash/money reserves

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