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1. To stay positioned on top of something. Good luck keeping yourself on that wild horse!
2. To support someone so that they stay positioned on top of something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "on." I'll walk beside you and keep you on the horse, don't worry.
3. To persist in doing something. I'm going to call the cops on our neighbors if they keep on making such a racket.
4. To have someone continue to work in a particular job. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "on." I think we should keep Ellen on—she's doing a fine job with the filing.
5. To continue to monitor someone or something. Keep on this case, and let me know what you find out.
6. To fail to remove a particular clothing item. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "on." I've kept my hat on all day to hide how bad my hair looks!
7. To turn or switch something on. Why do you insist on keeping the air conditioning on when it's 50 degrees out?
8. To constantly prompt or remind someone about something. You need to keep on him about cleaning his room, or he'll never do it.
9. To store something on something in particular. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "on." Mom keeps the spare linens on the top shelf in her closet.
10. To keep one's vision focused on something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "keep" and "on." Did you keep your eye on the ball as you swung the bat? If you don't keep your eyes on your own test, I'm going to assume that you're cheating.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
keep someone on(something)
1. Lit. to make or help someone stay mounted on something, such as a horse, bicycle, etc. Her father kept her on the bicycle as she was learning to ride it. I couldn't keep myself on the horse.
2. Fig. to retain someone as an employee. We can't keep you on the payroll any longer. Ken could not be kept on any longer.
keep someone on
Fig. to retain someone in employment longer than is required or was planned. She worked out so well that we decided to keep her on. Liz was kept on as a consultant.
keep something on
to continue to wear an article of clothing. I'm going to keep my coat on. It's a little chilly in here. I'll keep on my coat, thanks.
keep on someone
(about something) Go to keep after someone (about something).
keep on something
1. . and keep on Lit. to work to remain mounted on something, such as a horse, bicycle, etc. It's really hard for me to keep on a horse. It's hard to keep on when it's moving all over the place.
2. . Fig. to pay close attention to something. (See also keep on top of someone or something.) Keep on that story until everything is settled. This is a problem. Keep on it until it's settled.
(doing something) to continue to do something. Are you going to keep on singing all night? Yes, I'm going to keep on.
(one's) guard (against someone or something) Go to on (one's) guard (against someone or something).
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Continue, persist, as in They kept on singing all night. [Late 1500s]
2. Maintain an existing situation, as in After Mr. Brown died, the housekeeper wondered if she would be kept on. [Mid-1600s]
3. Cause to stay on or remain attached, as in Keep your coat on; it's cold in here. [Late 1800s]
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.
1. To hold or maintain something using something else as a support: I keep the peanut butter on the top shelf.
2. To hold or maintain the aim or sight of something toward some object or goal: Keep your eyes on the road when you're driving. I kept my attention on my book, despite the children's screaming.
3. To continue doing something: I was getting increasingly tired, but I kept on walking. Keep on working.
4. To have something remain operational, switched to an on position: I always keep one light on when I go to bed. The custodian keeps on the heat at night.
5. To remind someone repeatedly about something: Why do I always have to keep on you about handing your homework in on time?
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.