These dreams are the solace of poverty; they keep back the tears in the eyes of the young and the hungry.
He had really not enough fortitude in him just then to tell her to keep back.
The business, however, pressed; and to keep back these but too just claimants was her present most fervent desire.
For the future, if I live, I must keep back some—a little—to bring me to you.
To my surprise the journey did not seem to last half an hour, and half the time I could not keep back the tears from my eyes.
Paul could not keep back the tears when he saw how kind Uncle Peter was.
She closed her lips tightly, to keep back the rising sobs, and regarded him with questioning, fearful eyes.
Hallo, keep back there, you are throwing us all into the river!
To get into a panic and keep back anything is the greatest mistake.
Her fists clenched and she bit her lip to keep back the tears.
late Old English cepan "to seize, hold," also "to observe," from Proto-Germanic *kopijanan, but with no certain connection to other languages. It possibly is related to Old English capian "to look," from Proto-Germanic *kap- (cepan was used c.1000 to render Latin observare), which would make the basic sense "to keep an eye on."
The word prob. belongs primarily to the vulgar and non-literary stratum of the language; but it comes up suddenly into literary use c.1000, and that in many senses, indicating considerable previous development. [OED]Sense of "preserve, maintain" is from mid-14c. Meaning "to maintain in proper order" is from 1550s; meaning "financially support and privately control" (usually in reference to mistresses) is from 1540s. Related: Kept; keeping.
mid-13c., "care or heed in watching," from keep (v.). Meaning "innermost stronghold of a tower" is from 1580s, perhaps a translation of Italian tenazza, with a notion of "that which keeps" (someone or something); the sense of "food required to keep a person or animal" is attested from 1801. For keeps "completely, for good" is American English colloquial, from 1861.