Definition of hold someone/something up in English:

hold someone/something up

phrasal verb

  • 1Support and prevent something from falling.

    ‘concrete pillars hold up the elevated section of the railway’
    • ‘It looked like the roadway had collapsed, I could see the crumbling remains of the old supports that had held it up.’
    • ‘Two hits later, the tree was halfway down and quickly falling towards the ground, crushing large amounts of undergrowth on the way, Matthew holding the one end up so as to prevent it from crushing the man he was trying to save.’
    • ‘Since the entire palace was made of alabaster, it hardly needed pillars to hold it up.’
    • ‘Two stone pillars held an arched roof up, which itself was engraved with runes and other types of symbols.’
    • ‘The top half of the building broke free from the rest of the building, and began to grind and sway as the only thing holding it up was crumbling concrete.’
    • ‘She realized one of the boards holding the mattress up had fallen.’
    • ‘Pillars seemed to have held the roof up for many years now as the roof was cracked and crumbling.’
    • ‘Aidan wasn't sure his legs would hold him up, but he stood.’
    • ‘The waiter greeted her in a perky voice and gestured to a sign with the menu written on it hanging from one of the slender stone pillars that held the cloth roof up.’
    • ‘As we were heading down on the platform, we noticed the third monorail track above the platform was held up by column-like supports with ivy wrapped around it.’
    • ‘Suddenly the heroes felt the floor beneath them shake and they hid behind the pillars that held the ceiling up.’
    • ‘Pillars that hold these bridges up are being placed at intervals wider than the old ones, to permit easier water flow.’
    • ‘Later that evening our distraught neighbour came round to inform us that this was in fact one of the walls that was holding our building up and that whoever had knocked a hole in it was putting us at risk of collapsing like a pack of cards.’
    • ‘They were immediately behind one of the giant metal posts holding up the roof!’
    • ‘Four columns held it up for support, and each column had a diameter of no less than ten feet.’
    • ‘Hannah's legs seemed to no longer be able to hold her up, and she fell to the floor, shaking violently.’
    • ‘The rooftop of the stables was a flat sheet of metal with wooden pillars to hold it up.’
    • ‘She added that the surface around the grate had got so bad that the brackets holding the grate cover up were exposed and when pedestrians walked on the grate it wobbled.’
    • ‘Luckily, one of the posts holding the jetty up was stopping him going any further, otherwise he would have been in trouble.’
    • ‘The boxes that had displayed fruit were scattered in broken pieces around the stand, the cloth roof was torn and two of the posts holding it up were cracked and fallen over.’
    support, hold, bear, carry, take, sustain, keep up, prop up, bolster up, shore up, buttress
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  • 2Display something by holding it above one's waist or head.

    ‘he held up the book so she could see the cover’
    • ‘Drawing on his acting talents, Charles Dickens holds up a copy of one of his own novels, from which to read to an adoring public.’
    • ‘He holds up a copy of the latest bestseller.’
    • ‘Many held up camcorders or cellphones with cameras to capture the scene.’
    • ‘Walking out I see Billie with a cheesey grin on holding up my crutches.’
    • ‘Some are just sitting picking away at their work, others standing holding up their latest creations.’
    • ‘She held up a beautiful gown made of lace and satin, in white and gray.’
    • ‘Sam went outside the airport to look for the person who would hold up a sign saying " Sam Miller ".’
    • ‘Catching view of her father's puzzled look Kerri came to the realization that she was standing on the table holding her spoon up in the air.’
    • ‘Once on the plate smaller plates slide out to hold up the sleeves.’
    • ‘But, unable to hold any book up or tilt his head down, he had to cast his eyes down to see the pages.’
    display, hold aloft, exhibit, show, show off, put on show, present, flourish, flaunt, brandish
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    1. 2.1 Present or expose someone or something as an example or for particular treatment.
      ‘they were held up to public ridicule’
      • ‘For a long time golfers were held up to ridicule for their attempts at fashion.’
      • ‘No diplomat anywhere is likely to turn the other cheek if his president is held up to ridicule in a public forum.’
      • ‘For over three years Ireland has been held up as a shining example of a rich country that was prepared to contribute more than the rhetoric to the debate on poverty.’
      • ‘Students from Swindon College were held up as examples for others to follow at the Further Education Research Association Conference.’
      • ‘Instead it holds up for admiration those who made suffering their art form.’
      • ‘The first test of his leadership, when he will be held up to an hour of merciless scrutiny by the electorate, comes next Saturday.’
      • ‘They give high quality care and they are held up as an example of good practice.’
      • ‘The thing about broad generalizations made about a group of people is that if they are held up to scrutiny they are, more often than not, proved false at their very core.’
      • ‘York will be held up to the rest of the world as an example of hope for the future of the planet.’
      • ‘That can only happen through open political debate, where bigoted views are held up to scrutiny.’
  • 3Delay or block the movement or progress of someone or something.

    ‘our return flight was held up for seven hours’
    • ‘I had to wait three hours for the next one and hoped no-one had cursed me for holding the flight up.’
    • ‘What is really holding up the further spread of such infrastructure are planning delays.’
    • ‘It meant a three-day delay in delivery for some wards as the post was held up over the Bank Holiday weekend.’
    • ‘If I had been in that airport and my flight was held up because of these idiots, I would have cheered the police on as they arrested the couple.’
    • ‘At Luxor airport seven flights were held up while two others were diverted to Cairo airport.’
    • ‘This should help prevent the repeat of situations where critical forest thinning projects were held up for years, only to be rendered moot by the flames that agency managers were urgently trying to prevent.’
    • ‘Mr Reynolds said the application had been held up by discussions on restricting the goods to be sold and a proposal to set up an agreement tying the shop to the farm which he could not sign as he was a tenant and not the farm owner.’
    • ‘If there is a thunderstorm in Chicago, all the flights in New York are held up.’
    • ‘One flight was cancelled at Leeds Bradford Airport with delays ranging from 10 to 45 minutes, while 100 flights were held up by up to more than an hour at Manchester Airport.’
    • ‘Real medical advances are held up for years or totally blocked by red-tape.’
    delay, detain, make late, set back, keep back, retard, slow down, slow up
    obstruct, impede, hinder, hamper, inhibit, baulk, thwart, curb, hamstring, frustrate, foil, baffle, be a hindrance to, interfere with, put a brake on, stop
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  • 4Rob someone or something using threats or violence.

    ‘a masked raider held up the post office’
    • ‘He told her that he had been held up and his car stolen, and that he had managed to run away with his underwear only.’
    • ‘Nobody thinks that if criminals cannot get imitation guns they will stop holding people up.’
    • ‘Kids are under enormous pressure to collect the whole set and it seems they will do so even if it means stealing them or holding someone up at knifepoint.’
    • ‘He claimed he was held up at knife point during a raid when some two thousand pounds' worth of video equipment was stolen.’
    • ‘In late September, three canoes carrying fishing supplies were held up by gunmen who seized all goods and abducted the 23 people on board.’
    • ‘Two months ago we were held up by a gunman and the next day people thought we had made it up as a publicity stunt.’
    • ‘While they were heading home, they were held up for a second time by another gang of gunmen.’
    • ‘The post office and store in Thorpe Road, Kirby Cross, has been shut since the last raid on January 16 after gun-wielding robbers held it up.’
    • ‘He was walking to a nearby post office to deposit his takings when he was held up.’
    • ‘A gang of robbers escaped with several million pounds in cash during a raid at Heathrow Airport in which a security van was held up.’
    rob, commit armed robbery on, make an armed raid on
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  • 5Bridge
    Refrain from playing a winning card for tactical reasons.