what's the difference/relation between these two expressions: "for good" and "for keep"?

I'm not an English mothertongue, so for me these are very similar in meaning, but couldn't find any clue that they are ... Dictionary appear confusing to me, in this perticular connection. Please advise. Thank you Pino.

  • It's for keeps - they both mean "forever". Jun 6, 2019 at 21:42
  • Could you please add examples of the usage you have seen to clarify the question? Jun 6, 2019 at 21:49
  • Sorry, of course "for keeps" was the idea. The curious thing to me is the fact that I couldn't find any typical example relating the two, which I'd expected. Anyway the answer below for me is quite satisfactory. Thak you. Pino.
    – pino
    Jun 6, 2019 at 22:11
  • Thank you Colin, Thank you Nanigashi. Pino.
    – pino
    Jun 6, 2019 at 22:22

2 Answers 2


"For keeps" has its origins in children's games in which the loser forfeits something to the winner. (If you're playing marbles "for keeps," the winner will go home with whatever marbles he has won; if not, they'll be returned to the loser at the end of the game.) Outside of this literal meaning, "playing for keeps" is often used to convey that someone is doing something in earnest or with serious intent – that he is not just playing around.

"For good" is not quite as colloquial and has a broader meaning. It can be used as a synonym for "permanently" in many cases where "for keeps" would not work. (E.g., "After decades of spending part of his time England and part of it in the U.S., he has finally gone back to England for good.")


For keep doesn't exist in my experience.

For keeps is very colloquial, and to my ears rather childish. I associate it with children's speech of my childhood (and indeed the Corpus of Historical American English shows it as most popular between 1920 and 1970, and tailing off since then).

For good is not formal, but not as colloquial as for keeps.

There's no difference in meaning.

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