for keeps

Idioms & Phrases

for keeps

  1. For the winner to retain, as in You can't take the marbles back; we were playing for keeps. [Mid-1800s]

  2. For an indefinitely long time, forever, as in She is leaving town for keeps.

  3. In earnest, seriously, as in We're separating for keeps. [Late 1800s]

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