Top 25 Slang For Hold Back – Meaning & Usage

Hold back is a common phrase that can be used in various situations, but did you know there are trendy slang terms that can add a fun twist to it? Whether you’re trying to sound cool in a conversation or simply curious about the latest lingo, we’ve got you covered with a list of the most popular slang for hold back. Stay ahead of the curve and level up your vocabulary with us!

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1. Clam up

This phrase is used to describe someone who suddenly becomes silent or refuses to speak. It implies that the person is keeping information or opinions to themselves.

  • For example, during a heated argument, one person might say, “Why don’t you just clam up and listen for once?”
  • In a tense situation, someone might say, “I could tell he was lying because he clammed up when I asked him about it.”
  • A parent might scold their child, “Stop clamming up and tell me what happened.”

2. Bite your nails

This phrase is used to describe a person who is feeling anxious or nervous. It refers to the act of biting one’s nails, which is often done unconsciously when someone is stressed or worried.

  • For instance, a friend might say, “I could tell you were nervous during the presentation because you were biting your nails.”
  • In a suspenseful movie, a character might bite their nails while waiting for a crucial phone call.
  • A person discussing their anxiety might say, “I tend to bite my nails when I’m feeling overwhelmed.”

3. Keep mum

This phrase is used to describe someone who keeps quiet or doesn’t reveal information. It implies that the person is intentionally withholding information or keeping a secret.

  • For example, in a detective story, a suspect might “keep mum” to avoid incriminating themselves.
  • In a discussion about a surprise party, someone might say, “Make sure to keep mum about the plans so it’s a surprise.”
  • A friend might ask, “Can you keep mum about what I’m about to tell you? It’s a sensitive topic.”

4. Button it

This phrase is used to tell someone to be quiet or stop talking. It implies that the person is being too talkative or saying something inappropriate.

  • For instance, during a meeting, someone might say, “Button it, we need to focus on the task at hand.”
  • In a classroom, a teacher might tell a student, “If you don’t button it, I’ll have to send you to the principal’s office.”
  • A parent might scold their child, “I’ve told you a hundred times to button it when we’re in public.”

5. Keep it under wraps

This phrase is used to describe keeping something a secret or not revealing information. It implies that the information should be kept hidden or confidential.

  • For example, in a business setting, someone might say, “We need to keep this new product under wraps until the official launch.”
  • In a gossip-filled neighborhood, a resident might say, “I heard some juicy news, but I’ll keep it under wraps for now.”
  • A friend might ask, “Can you keep it under wraps that I’m planning a surprise party for Sarah?”

6. Hush up

This phrase is used to tell someone to be quiet or to stop talking. It can also be used to indicate that someone should keep a secret or not reveal information.

  • For example, a parent might say to their child, “Hush up and listen to what I’m saying.”
  • In a tense situation, someone might whisper, “Hush up, we don’t want to be heard.”
  • A friend might say, “Hush up about the surprise party, we don’t want them to find out.”

7. Bite back

To “bite back” means to refrain from responding or retaliating in a situation where one might be provoked or tempted to do so. It implies holding back one’s emotions or reactions.

  • For instance, in an argument, someone might say, “I wanted to say something, but I bit back my words.”
  • A person might reflect, “Sometimes it’s better to bite back and not engage in unnecessary conflict.”
  • In a discussion about dealing with criticism, someone might advise, “When faced with negative comments, it’s important to bite back and not let them affect you.”

8. Keep a poker face

To “keep a poker face” means to maintain a neutral or unreadable facial expression, especially in situations where one wants to hide their emotions or intentions.

  • For example, during a poker game, a player might keep a poker face to bluff their opponents.
  • In a high-pressure situation, someone might be advised, “Keep a poker face and don’t let them see you’re nervous.”
  • A person might say, “I had to keep a poker face when I heard the surprising news.”

9. Zip your lip

This phrase is used to tell someone to keep quiet or stop talking. It implies the act of closing one’s lips as a gesture of silence.

  • For instance, a teacher might say to a chatty student, “Zip your lip and pay attention.”
  • In a confidential conversation, someone might say, “Zip your lip, this is top secret.”
  • A parent might warn their child, “Zip your lip or you’ll get in trouble.”

10. Bite the bullet

To “bite the bullet” means to face a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage or determination, often despite the fear or discomfort involved.

  • For example, before undergoing a medical procedure, a patient might say, “I have to bite the bullet and go through with it.”
  • In a challenging task, someone might say, “It’s time to bite the bullet and get it done.”
  • A person reflecting on a tough decision might say, “I had to bite the bullet and make the difficult choice.”

11. Bite your cheek

This phrase is used to describe the act of holding back a reaction or response, especially when something is frustrating or irritating.

  • For example, if someone says something offensive, you might bite your cheek to prevent yourself from responding angrily.
  • When faced with criticism, you might bite your cheek to avoid getting defensive.
  • In a tense situation, you might bite your cheek to keep yourself calm and collected.
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12. Keep it hush-hush

This slang phrase is used to describe the act of keeping something a secret or not revealing information to others.

  • For instance, if you’re planning a surprise party, you might tell everyone to keep it hush-hush so the guest of honor doesn’t find out.
  • In a workplace, if there’s a major reorganization happening, employees might be instructed to keep it hush-hush until an official announcement is made.
  • When discussing personal matters, you might say, “Let’s keep it hush-hush between us.”

13. Hold back the tears

This phrase is used to describe the act of controlling or preventing oneself from crying, especially in emotional situations.

  • For example, during a sad movie, you might try to hold back the tears to avoid crying in front of others.
  • When receiving bad news, you might hold back the tears to maintain composure.
  • If someone shares a heartwarming story, you might say, “I couldn’t hold back the tears.”

14. Bite your tongue

This slang phrase is used to describe the act of refraining from speaking or expressing one’s opinion, especially when it may cause conflict or disagreement.

  • For instance, if someone says something offensive, you might bite your tongue to avoid escalating the situation.
  • In a heated argument, you might bite your tongue to prevent yourself from saying something hurtful.
  • When faced with criticism, you might bite your tongue and listen instead of immediately defending yourself.

15. Keep a tight rein

This phrase is used to describe the act of maintaining strict control or restraint over a situation or oneself.

  • For example, a manager might keep a tight rein on their employees to ensure productivity and adherence to company policies.
  • In personal relationships, someone might keep a tight rein on their emotions to avoid getting hurt.
  • When managing finances, it’s important to keep a tight rein on spending to stay within a budget.
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16. Hold off

This phrase means to wait or delay taking action. It is often used to suggest not proceeding with something immediately.

  • For example, “Let’s hold off on making a decision until we have more information.”
  • In a discussion about starting a new project, someone might say, “We should hold off until we have a better plan.”
  • A coach might advise a team, “Hold off on shooting until you have a clear shot.”

17. Hold your fire

This phrase is commonly used in military or combat situations to tell soldiers to stop shooting or to hold their fire.

  • For instance, a commanding officer might shout, “Hold your fire! We don’t have a clear target.”
  • In a video game, a character might say, “Hold your fire until I give the signal.”
  • A police officer might yell, “Hold your fire! He’s unarmed!”

18. Hold your breath

This phrase means to wait with anticipation or expectation. It is often used to express suspense or uncertainty about a future outcome.

  • For example, “We’re still waiting for the test results, so hold your breath.”
  • In a discussion about a pending announcement, someone might say, “I can’t wait to hear the news. I’m holding my breath!”
  • A fan of a sports team might say, “I’m holding my breath for a championship this year.”

19. Keep it on the down low

This phrase means to keep something a secret or to not share information openly. It is often used in situations where confidentiality is important.

  • For instance, “Let’s keep this party on the down low. We don’t want everyone to know about it.”
  • In a discussion about a surprise gift, someone might say, “Keep it on the down low so it doesn’t ruin the surprise.”
  • A friend might ask, “Can you keep it on the down low that I’m quitting my job?”

20. Keep it zipped

This phrase means to stay quiet or keep a secret. It is often used as a playful or lighthearted way of telling someone to not reveal information.

  • For example, “Keep it zipped about the surprise party. We don’t want the guest of honor to find out.”
  • In a discussion about a confidential project, someone might say, “Remember, keep it zipped until we’re ready to announce.”
  • A parent might jokingly say to their child, “Keep it zipped about what we’re getting mom for her birthday.”

21. Keep it in check

To maintain self-control or restrain oneself from doing or saying something.

  • For example, “When someone insults you, it’s important to keep it in check and not retaliate.”
  • In a heated argument, one might say, “I had to keep it in check and not lose my temper.”
  • A person discussing anger management might advise, “When you feel your anger rising, take a deep breath and try to keep it in check.”

22. Hold it in

To refrain from expressing or releasing one’s emotions, usually in a situation where it is socially inappropriate or unacceptable to do so.

  • For instance, if someone tells a joke at a funeral, you might have to hold it in and not laugh.
  • In a tense meeting, one might say, “I had to hold it in and not show my frustration.”
  • A person discussing bladder control might say, “When you can’t find a restroom, you have to hold it in.”

23. Bite the dust

To die or be killed, often in a sudden or unexpected manner.

  • For example, “In the final scene of the movie, the villain bites the dust.”
  • In a discussion about historical battles, one might say, “Many soldiers bit the dust in that conflict.”
  • A person discussing a car accident might say, “The driver lost control and bit the dust.”

24. Bite the hand that feeds you

To act against or harm someone who has been providing support or assistance.

  • For instance, “He bit the hand that feeds him by stealing from his employer.”
  • In a discussion about loyalty, one might say, “You should never bite the hand that feeds you.”
  • A person discussing workplace dynamics might advise, “If you want to succeed, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

25. Hold back the floodgates

To restrain or control intense emotions or feelings, often in a situation where it is challenging to do so.

  • For example, “When she saw her favorite band perform, she couldn’t hold back the floodgates and started crying.”
  • In a heartwarming moment, one might say, “He couldn’t hold back the floodgates of joy when he saw his family after a long time.”
  • A person discussing grief might say, “Sometimes, it’s hard to hold back the floodgates of sadness.”