hold the fort


[fawrt, fohrt]
a strong or fortified place occupied by troops and usually surrounded by walls, ditches, and other defensive works; a fortress; fortification.
any permanent army post.
(formerly) a trading post.
hold the fort,
to defend one's position against attack or criticism.
to maintain the existing state of affairs.

1550–60; < Middle French, noun use of adj. fort strong < Latin fortis

fort, forte (see pronunciation note at forte).
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World English Dictionary
fort (fɔːt)
1.  a fortified enclosure, building, or position able to be defended against an enemy
2.  informal hold the fort to maintain or guard something temporarily
[C15: from Old French, from fort (adj) strong, from Latin fortis]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1557, from M.Fr. fort, noun use of O.Fr. fort (adj.) "strong, fortified," from L. fortis "strong," from O.Latin forctus, from PIE base *bheregh- "high, elevated" (cf. Skt. brmhati "strengthens, elevates," O.H.G. berg "hill").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

hold the fort

Assume responsibility, especially in another's absence; also, maintain a secure position. For example, Harry did a good job of holding the fort until his boss recovered, or Can you hold the fort in the kitchen? This expression has been traced to an order given by General William Tecumseh Sherman in 1864, which was repeated as "Hold the fort [against the enemy at Allatoona] at all costs, for I am coming."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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