Definition of withhold in English:



  • 1 Refuse to give (something that is due to or is desired by another)

    ‘the name of the dead man is being withheld’
    ‘the withholding of consent to treatment’
    • ‘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 withholds information (the secret of Karna's birth, for instance) from other characters.’
    • ‘Words cannot express how emphatically this film withholds the pleasures of film-going.’
    • ‘It's gutsy for Shanley to withhold the emotional satisfaction of closure in a drama fueled by such a fraught subject.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Scorpio man is deliberately uncommunicative and withholds information, mainly because it upsets you and allows him to manipulate you.’
    • ‘He said he believed it was the school's legal right to withhold exam results.’
    • ‘Whether a doctor withholds material information or simply ignores a lack of consent, she betrays the patient's trust and thereby undermines his autonomy.’
    • ‘He teases the astrophysicists with his advanced technology then withholds the information because he deems us unworthy, then backhandedly compliments our biodiversity.’
    • ‘The advice to withhold the results until that day was reportedly issued in a circular sent out earlier this month, the story said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Starr refused to withhold the doctor's grim prognosis from Ellard.’
    • ‘Elliott Abrams later pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress.’
    • ‘She denied the government's request to withhold such information for another year.’
    • ‘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.’
    refuse to give, hold back, keep back, stop
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Suppress or hold back (an emotion or reaction)
      ‘Elizabeth could no longer withhold her sentiments’
      ‘her mouth clenched as if withholding a cry’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘You don't need to apologize… you didn't know,’ Cael said, not even trying to withhold his own emotions.’
      • ‘The mother, Charlotte, a famous concert pianist, withholds her approval.’
      • ‘Anthony Mackie is especially effective as the rock-solid center, masterfully withholding his emotions until just the right moment.’
      • ‘He pretended not to notice the younger man's barely withheld emotions.’
      • ‘How ridiculous that magazines advised young people like myself to withhold their feelings until the words were first said to me.’
      • ‘Do I give and withhold love according to my moods or is it constant regardless of the ups and downs of life?’
      • ‘If he did not withhold his love and mercy from us before we loved him, will he refuse us now?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Rather, opponents of gay marriage wish to withhold approval of homosexuality.’
      • ‘What Mr. Mendes might be great at is a Batman movie, where withholding emotion is a built in part of the character.’
      • ‘The passionate outcry in the middle of this poem is reminiscent of Sep. Sep's God withholds his love from man.’
      • ‘Nationalists, on the other hand, rather resented Yeltsin's adoption of their own line, and largely out of spite withheld their approval.’
      • ‘I try to withhold all curiosities and concentrate on maintaining my composure.’
      • ‘Dantelos's eyes were more narrow and mysterious, while Dante's were rounded and withheld emotion.’
      • ‘It is impossible to withhold admiration for his series.’
      • ‘Never once last year did she withhold her emotions.’
      suppress, repress, hold back, keep back, fight back, choke back, swallow, control, keep in check, check, restrain, contain, curb
      View synonyms


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