hold back

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Plain form
hold back

Third-person singular
holds back

Past tense
held back

Past participle
held back

Present participle
holding back

  1. (idiom) To hold back is to stop yourself from saying or doing something. Holding back keeps something secret.
    He held back his problems for many years, not telling anyone.
  2. (idiom) If an object holds back something, it stops it from moving.
    A dam can hold back a lot of water.
  3. (idiom) If someone is held back in school, they do not move on to the next grade.
    He is old for his grade because he was held back.