hold back

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

hold back (third-person singular simple present holds back, present participle holding back, simple past and past participle held back)

  1. (idiomatic) to act with reserve; to contain one's full measure or power
    Don't hold back. Hit it as hard as you can.
  2. (idiomatic) to contain; stop
    The dam can't hold back that much water.
    • 2011 January 8, Chris Bevan, “Arsenal 1 - 1 Leeds”, BBC:
      Fabregas coolly slotted home after Ben Parker held back Theo Walcott and only a super Kasper Schmeichel save stopped Denilson winning it for the Gunners.
  3. (idiomatic) to delay, especially in school
    He's a year older than his classmates because he was held back in second grade.