hold out

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Alternative forms[edit]


From hold and out.


  • (file)


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

  1. (transitive, literally) To hold (something) out; to extend (something) forward.
    He held out his hand, and I grabbed it.
    • 1881–1882, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, London, Paris: Cassell & Company, published 14 November 1883, →OCLC:
      I held out my hand, and the horrible, soft-spoken, eyeless creature gripped it in a moment like a vise. I was so much startled that I struggled to withdraw; but the blind man pulled me close up to him with a single action of his arm.
  2. (figuratively) To offer, present (a hope, possibility, opportunity etc.)
    The prospectus held out the promise of enormous profits to be made.
  3. (idiomatic, often with for) To wait, or refuse in hopes of getting something better (from a negotiation, etc.)
    I am holding out for more money.
    How long has he been holding out?
  4. (idiomatic) To survive, endure.
    How long can they hold out without water?
    • 2011 September 2, “Wales 2-1 Montenegro”, in BBC[1]:
      Stevan Jovetic gave Montenegro hope when he unleashed a pile-driver but Wales held out for a much-needed win.
    • 2023 October 28, Leighton Koopman, “YES!!! The Springboks beat the All Blacks to win another Rugby World Cup title”, in Independent Online[2]:
      For the third game in a row, the Boks held out with just one point after seeing off France and England in the quarters and semis respectively.
  5. (idiomatic, usually with on) To withhold something.
    You've got a key! Why have you been holding out on me?
  6. (transitive) To set aside something or save it for later.
    Pack the boxes, but hold out a few blue ones for later.


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hold out (plural hold outs)

  1. Alternative spelling of holdout.

See also[edit]