General English


  • noun grass or fodder crops for the grazing of livestock
  • verb to remain in good condition after harvest


  • verb to hold items for sale or for information


  • verb to go on doing something


  • verb to act as wicket-keeper
    Citation ‘To “keep” to a bowler like Shane Warne, who alternatively spins the ball from outside the batsman’s leg stump to somewhere in the vicinity of first slip and then makes one go straight ahead just four inches off the deck, requires remarkable skill’ (Australian Cricket October 1993)
    Citation ‘By choice I would have always played just as a batsman, but when Graham Gooch asked me if I would keep on the Indian tour, I could hardly say no’ (Alec Stewart, Observer 15 May 1994)

Origin & History of “keep”

For all that it is one of the commonest verbs in the language, remarkably little is known about the history of keep. It first appears in texts around the year 1000. It is assumed to have existed before then, but not to have belonged to a sufficiently ‘literary’ level of the language to have been written down. Nor has a link been established for certain with any words in other Germanic languages, although suggestions that have been put forward include Old high German kuofa ‘barrel’ (a relative of English coop), from the notion of its being something for ‘keeping’ things in, and also (since in the late Old English period keep was used for ‘watch’) Old Norse kópa ‘stare’.