keep back

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Related to keep back: keep up

keep back

1. To physically restrain someone or something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "back." I kept him back so that he didn't run after her.
2. To cause someone or something to physically stay away from someone or something else. A noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "back." This area is too dangerous so keep the kids back.
3. To obstruct someone or something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "back." Your fears are really keeping you back in life. The levee is keeping back the floodwaters, for now.
4. To require a student to repeat a grade of school. A noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "back." Am I really being kept back? I don't want to repeat junior year—can't I go to summer school or something?
5. To hold or keep something in one's possession. A noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "back." I kept back some of the money, so we still have some cash left.
See also: back, keep
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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

to make someone, something, or an animal stay in a position away from someone or something. Keep everyone back from the injured lady. Please keep the dogs back from the turtle.
See also: back, keep

keep someone or something back

to hold someone or something in reserve. Keep back some of the food for an emergency. We are keeping Karen back until the other players have exhausted themselves.
See also: back, keep

keep someone back

 and hold someone back 
1. Lit. to restrain people from moving forward or getting in the way. The police were ordered to keep people back so they wouldn't interfere with the paramedics.
2. Fig. to keep a child in the same grade for an extra year. We asked them to keep John back a year. John was kept back a year in school.
3. Fig. to keep someone from advancing in life. I think that your limited vocabulary is keeping you back. Her lack of computer skills kept her back in her career.
See also: back, keep
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

keep back

1. To remain out of the way: The spectators at the film shoot kept back. Passengers are requested to keep back behind the yellow line.
2. To cause someone or something to remain out of the way: The police kept the onlookers back so that the paramedics could do their job. The fine mesh kept back the debris.
3. To fail to advance someone to the next grade or class of school; flunk: The teacher kept three struggling students back. A tutor helped each student who was kept back.
See also: back, 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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References in periodicals archive ?
"Keep back from the edge of the landing stage," said Mam as I edged forward to get a full view.
No matches have been officially sold out because the International Rugby Board (IRB) keep back a certain number until closer to the tournament, but record attendances are expected for the event.
"You want to keep back boats and jet skies, anything that could stress the whale further."
But when schools keep back huge sums it detracts from the argument that schools need more funding.
Relatives and friends must keep back and use chairs in a bid to cut the risk of spreading the superbug MRSA.
SAFETY FIRST Police keep back as bomb team goes to work yesterday in Lurgan, Co Armagh
They also claimed not to pay out commission and investors were attracted on this promise of a freebie.They didn't keep back money in a kitty, and claimed they'd invented a better system.
FIFTY thousand Jewish troops and police blocked roads to Gaza yesterday to keep back radical protesters in the countdown to Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territory.
Police had to keep back panicking parents as rescuers struggled to reach the trapped children, aged seven to 12.
MOUSE fans should keep back a few pounds on the Christmas shopping, as Walt Disney World in Florida launches a range of UK exclusive park tickets on January 2.
Other people were quickly on the scene but decided to keep back and wait for the emergency services to arrive.
And police in Alachua County, Florida, said he used a 90kg bull mastiff in an bid to keep back officers who arrived to arrest him.
A Tesco spokesman said: "They're big guys and they don't mess around, but they're under strict orders to keep back."