hold back

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hold back

1. To physically restrain someone or something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "hold" and "back." I held him back so that he didn't run after her.
2. To not do something to the fullest extent that one can. Don't hold back on the court—I don't want you to let me win.
3. To obstruct someone or something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "hold" and "back." Your fears are really holding you back in life. The levee is holding back the floodwaters, for now.
4. To keep something in one's possession. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "hold" and "back." I held back some of the money, so we still have some cash left.
5. To withhold someone or something (from something). In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "hold" and "out." I heard that Sarah's parents are holding her back from play rehearsals because she has the mumps. Hold these pink cupcakes back for now—there's more than enough already on the table.
6. To require a student to repeat a grade of school. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "hold" and "back." Am I really being held back? I don't want to repeat junior year—can't I go to summer school or something? We may have to hold you back a year if you don't pass this test.
See also: back, hold

hold (someone, something, or an animal) back (from someone or something)

to restrain someone, something, or an animal from getting at or getting to someone or something. The parents held the children back from the cake and ice cream until the hostess said she was ready. Please hold back your dog.
See also: back, hold

hold back (on something)

to withhold something; to give or take only a limited amount. Hold back on the gravy. I'm on a diet. That's enough. Hold back. Save some for the others.
See also: back, hold

hold back

Also, keep back.
1. Retain in one's possession or control, as in He held back vital information, or I managed to keep back my tears. [First half of 1500s]
2. Restrain one-self, as in She held back from joining the others, or I wanted to denounce him right there, but I kept back for fear of making a scene. The first usage dates from the second half of the 1500s, the variant from the early 1800s.
3. Impede the progress of, as in The barriers held back traffic during the funeral procession, or Her daughter was kept back and had to repeat first grade.
See also: back, hold

hold back

v.
1. To restrain someone or something: The principal held back the bully. We held the dog back when the guests arrived.
2. To retain something in one's possession or control: The witness held back valuable information. I held my tears back when I heard the bad news.
3. To impede the progress of someone or something: Your interference is holding me back from completing the job. The manager's incompetence held back the staff from meeting their sales quota.
See also: back, hold
References in classic literature ?
What we did we had to do quickly and secretly, since even at this last hour the Indians might hold us back. Our stores we would leave behind us, save only our guns and cartridges.
"There has been a negativity which has been tried to be put around us but we won't let this hold us back. We've a lot to look forward to this season.
'The motion will only hold us back from achieving what we have been struggling to achieve - national integration.
They now say we will be worse off, even when freed from the expensive EU red tape regulations that cost UK jobs, hold us back, and give subsidies to our competitors abroad.
And so I quote Hillary's"Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe " they hold us back." #IStandWithAhmed
Mrs Burt said: "Young women are more confi- dent than ever but even today there are barriers and prejudices that hold us back. I want to inspire a young woman from Solihull to believe that she can achieve great leadership roles.
"I see something different, and all that will hold us back is a poverty of ambition."
Our business is continuing to expand but our diverse premises were starting to hold us back."
Sometimes it is good to channel our inner Superman and overcome those things that hold us back.
"With our goals for this new and improved credit union, it was very important for us to choose a robust and progressive system that would enable us to do what we want, and not hold us back," said Blake Burrell, CEO of Wasatch Peaks CU.
Nor is it moment to allow the fear of failure to hold us back.
Clare Francis of moneysupermarket.com said: "Our Britishness appears to hold us back from being more demanding and making the most of our money.
Thankfully, we can humbly receive His forgiveness and He will then remove the weights of guilt and fear which hold us back.