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1. In music, to keep rhythm or maintain tempo. The guys in the band can play—just not together. They almost never keep time.
2. Literally, for a clock or watch to accurately track and indicate the time. My grandfather's old pocket watch is a bit tarnished, but it still keeps time perfectly!
3. To monitor the clock in a sporting event or other contest. It must be nerve-racking to keep time during a game that important. One mistake could affect the whole season!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. Lit. to maintain a musical rhythm. Bob had to drop out of the band because he couldn't keep time. Since he can't keep time, he can't march, and he can't play the drums.
2. . Fig. to keep watch over the time in a game or an athletic contest. Ann kept time at all the basketball games. Whoever keeps time has to watch the referee very carefully.
3. . Fig. [for a clock or a watch] to keep track of time accurately. This watch doesn't keep time. My other watch kept time better.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Maintain the correct tempo and rhythm of music; also, mark the rhythm by foot-tapping, hand movements, or the like. For example, The children love to keep time by clapping their hands. This usage dates from the late 1500s and is occasionally put figuratively, as Ben Jonson did in Cynthia's Revels (1699): "Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears."
2. Also, keep good time. Indicate the correct time, as in This inexpensive watch does not keep good time. [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 (of a clock or watch) always show the correct time: It’s an old watch, but it keeps very good time.
2 sing, play, or dance to music at the right speed: Keep time with the music, Fiona. You’re singing too fast.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To indicate the correct time.
2. Music To maintain the tempo or rhythm.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.