keep at

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Related to keep at: keep at arm's length, keep at bay

keep at (someone or something)

1. To continue trying to do or achieve something, especially after initial failures or setbacks. Often used an imperative, especially in the phrase "keep at it." If you really want to become a comic book artist, you have to keep at it! You can't just give up after your first rejection. I felt much better when I kept at my exercising throughout my pregnancy.
2. To persistently try to motivate someone to do something, typically through frequent interaction, reminders, or even nagging. We need to keep at our senators to let them know we don't support this legislation in any way. Mom always kept at me to do my homework, and I'm very grateful to her for that.
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Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

keep someone at something

to make sure someone continues to work at something. Please keep Walter at his chores. I was so sick I couldn't keep myself at my work.
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keep at someone

(about something) Go to keep after someone (about something).
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keep at something

to persist at doing something; to continue trying to do something. John kept at his painting until the whole house was done. Keep at the job if you want to get it finished.
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McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

keep at

1. Persevere or persist at doing something. For example, If you keep at your math, you'll soon master it. It is also put as keep at it, as in He kept at it all day and finally finished the report. [Early 1800s]
2. keep at someone. Nag, harass, or annoy someone, as in You have to keep at Carl if you want him to do the work, or He keeps at Millie all the time. Also see keep after.
See also: keep
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

keep at

1. To continue putting effort into something; persevere in something: The crossword puzzle was difficult, but she kept at it and finally solved it.
2. To prod or remind someone persistently to do something: You'll have to keep at me about that yard work.
See also: keep
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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