Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- (idiomatic, intransitive) To act with reserve; to contain one's full measure or power.
- Don't hold back. Hit it as hard as you can.
- (idiomatic, transitive) To contain; stop.
- The dam can't hold back that much water.
2011 January 8, Chris Bevan, “Arsenal 1 - 1 Leeds”, in 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.
- (idiomatic, transitive) To delay the progress of, especially in school.
- He's a year older than his classmates, because he was held back in second grade.