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I have a question about the usages of the verb "hold" here:

New Breast Implant Holds Its Shape

I checked this dictionary, but cannot find a definition that fits the usage of "hold its shape" in the example. Could the example be either an error, or some sort of pun-intended usage?

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  • 1
    Look up the verbs "retain" and "maintain" and "keep" which have similar meanings. Feb 4, 2015 at 23:37
  • @TRomano So, I could write "he held his balance on the tightrope" to mean "he maintained his balance on the tightrope"?
    – meatie
    Feb 5, 2015 at 0:02
  • You can "hold your balance" but "maintain your balance" and "keep your balance" are far more common. Keep is most common. Feb 5, 2015 at 2:22
  • So, "he held his composure" is the same as "he kept his composure"?
    – meatie
    Feb 8, 2015 at 19:13
  • :define "the same as". Kept his composure is the usual collocation. "Held his composure" would be understood, but is not well attested. Feb 8, 2015 at 19:42

2 Answers 2

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It's basically just definition 1: to have or to keep. You could read it as

New Breast Implant Keeps Its Shape

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  • Definition 1 of that dictionary means to physically have something. Doesn't sound right....
    – meatie
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:57
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    The shape of something is certainly a physical attribute.
    – stangdon
    Feb 4, 2015 at 20:57
  • I note that two days ago, the highest voted answer to meatie's question "What does keep its shape mean" was that Keep its shape means hold its shape. This answer seems to confirm the other :-) ell.stackexchange.com/questions/48663/usage-of-keep-any-shape
    – Adam
    Feb 4, 2015 at 22:19
  • @Adam So, I could write "he held his balance on the tightrope" to mean "he maintained his balance on the tightrope"?
    – meatie
    Feb 5, 2015 at 0:01
  • So, "he held his composure" is the same as "he kept his composure"?
    – meatie
    Feb 7, 2015 at 23:05
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The problem, I think, is that your link misses this particular meaning. In this case, "hold" means "to keep or maintain in its current state", and can be either active or passive. Another example would be "the stock has held its value despite the current recession", or "a good air conditioner will hold the room temperature at a comfortable level."

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  • Exactly. To "hold" some attribute is to keep that attribute from changing. Feb 4, 2015 at 21:55
  • So, I could write "he held his balance on the tightrope" to mean "he maintained his balance on the tightrope"?
    – meatie
    Feb 5, 2015 at 0:00
  • I suspect you could, but I don't think I've ever heard the phrase, so I'd advise against it. But I admit I'm not sure. Certainly the phrase I'm familiar with for exactly this situation is "He kept his balance", so the new phrase doesn't seem quite right. Feb 6, 2015 at 0:12
  • So, "he held his composure" is the same as "he kept his composure"?
    – meatie
    Feb 8, 2015 at 18:56
  • Yup. Exactly right. And using it with composure but not with balance - well, English is a mongrel language is all I can say. Feb 10, 2015 at 5:03

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