Definition of withhold in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Refuse to give (something that is due to or is desired by another)

    ‘the name of the dead man is being withheld’
    • ‘Scorpio man is deliberately uncommunicative and withholds information, mainly because it upsets you and allows him to manipulate you.’
    • ‘Police also questioned the female guide who led the tourists to the show but she refused to give any information and even withheld her name during the interview.’
    • ‘He teases the astrophysicists with his advanced technology then withholds the information because he deems us unworthy, then backhandedly compliments our biodiversity.’
    • ‘It's gutsy for Shanley to withhold the emotional satisfaction of closure in a drama fueled by such a fraught subject.’
    • ‘Words cannot express how emphatically this film withholds the pleasures of film-going.’
    • ‘Martin said he had been inundated with complaints from angry parents after a number of school principals withheld their children's results because they failed to pay last year's school fees.’
    • ‘For example, when Ariane withholds personal information from Olivier, he regards that as a much greater violation of trust than anything that she might elect to do in the course of her work.’
    • ‘Elliott Abrams later pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress.’
    • ‘As is customary in detective films, the film periodically withholds information, and indeed gives false clues in the form of misleading flashbacks.’
    • ‘And while Annie inflicts humiliation and degradation and withholds pain relief and food Paul is forced to write a new chapter every day simply to stay alive.’
    • ‘Whether a doctor withholds material information or simply ignores a lack of consent, she betrays the patient's trust and thereby undermines his autonomy.’
    • ‘She denied the government's request to withhold such information for another year.’
    • ‘The advice to withhold the results until that day was reportedly issued in a circular sent out earlier this month, the story said.’
    • ‘Starr refused to withhold the doctor's grim prognosis from Ellard.’
    • ‘He said he believed it was the school's legal right to withhold exam results.’
    • ‘He withholds information (the secret of Karna's birth, for instance) from other characters.’
    refuse to give, hold back, keep back, stop
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    1. 1.1 Suppress or hold back (an emotion or reaction).
      • ‘How ridiculous that magazines advised young people like myself to withhold their feelings until the words were first said to me.’
      • ‘It is impossible to withhold admiration for his series.’
      • ‘Never once last year did she withhold her emotions.’
      • ‘The mother, Charlotte, a famous concert pianist, withholds her approval.’
      • ‘Dantelos's eyes were more narrow and mysterious, while Dante's were rounded and withheld emotion.’
      • ‘What Mr. Mendes might be great at is a Batman movie, where withholding emotion is a built in part of the character.’
      • ‘Anthony Mackie is especially effective as the rock-solid center, masterfully withholding his emotions until just the right moment.’
      • ‘If he did not withhold his love and mercy from us before we loved him, will he refuse us now?’
      • ‘I try to withhold all curiosities and concentrate on maintaining my composure.’
      • ‘The passionate outcry in the middle of this poem is reminiscent of Sep. Sep's God withholds his love from man.’
      • ‘Rather, opponents of gay marriage wish to withhold approval of homosexuality.’
      • ‘‘You don't need to apologize… you didn't know,’ Cael said, not even trying to withhold his own emotions.’
      • ‘He pretended not to notice the younger man's barely withheld emotions.’
      • ‘Do I give and withhold love according to my moods or is it constant regardless of the ups and downs of life?’
      • ‘Aggression turned outward often takes the forms of gossip, verbal abuse, or withholding affection or friendship.’
      • ‘Her revenge, on the other hand, is of a more passive-aggressive nature: she withholds her affections from him.’
      • ‘And that comes off as things like withholding your emotions from other people.’
      • ‘Nationalists, on the other hand, rather resented Yeltsin's adoption of their own line, and largely out of spite withheld their approval.’
      • ‘While it is impossible to withhold sympathy from classes so depressed as these slum-dwellers are, it cannot be overlooked that the very nature of their mode of living tends to reduce their value in the labour market.’
      suppress, repress, hold back, keep back, fight back, choke back, swallow, control, keep in check, check, restrain, contain, curb
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    2. 1.2 (of an employer) deduct (tax) from an employee's paycheck and send it directly to the government.
      • ‘Most of their wages are withheld by their employers.’
      • ‘If you come up short, there's still time to arrange for your employer to withhold more from your paycheck.’
      • ‘The minister may request that an additional amount of income tax be withheld to cover self-employment tax.’
      • ‘This plan, as all of us know only too well, coerced every employer into the unpaid labor of withholding the tax each month from the employee's paycheck and delivering it to the Treasury.’
      • ‘Among those firms, 70 companies had not withheld income taxes from employees' wages.’
      • ‘However, churches and ministers may enter into a voluntary agreement under which federal income taxes are withheld.’
      • ‘Companies don't withhold income tax for their independent contractors, either.’
      • ‘The flat rate method is only an option when income tax is withheld from the regular pay for the relevant regular pay period.’
      • ‘Federal law dictates that employers must withhold money for child support from his paycheck.’
      • ‘The firm's owner openly boasts that he no longer withholds taxes from workers' paychecks.’
      • ‘Thus, when Mrs. Feldbrugge was working, her employer withheld from her pay a sum paid over to the Occupational Association.’
      • ‘But if you can't avoid the tax, make sure your employer withholds only 20% on the cost basis, not the entire amount.’
      • ‘Art dealers are responsible for the trust fund taxes that are due even if they failed to withhold the tax from the employees' paychecks or withheld less than was required.’
      • ‘More than one million people have had their wages withheld by employers and the government, which is Iran's largest employer.’
      • ‘For example, India might require a company subsidiary to withhold taxes from the fees it pays to a service center located in Ireland.’
      • ‘Churches withhold taxes from the paychecks of nonministerial employees because the government requires them to do so.’
      • ‘And so too do employers who are failing to meet their obligations to withhold tax and super contributions for their workers.’
      • ‘If this will create or increase a tax refund, ask the tax department to give your employer permission to withhold less tax - so you get your refund during the year instead of having to wait until the summer of 2005.’
      • ‘In fact, the accountants no longer withheld income taxes ‘because they would be refunded anyway after the closure and liquidation.’’
      • ‘Trust fund taxes are taxes that a dealer withholds from an employee's paycheck.’


Middle English: from the prefix with- ‘away’ + the verb hold.