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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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    Look up the verbs "retain" and "maintain" and "keep" which have similar meanings. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 4 '15 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 '15 at 0:02
  • You can "hold your balance" but "maintain your balance" and "keep your balance" are far more common. Keep is most common. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 5 '15 at 2:22
  • So, "he held his composure" is the same as "he kept his composure"? – meatie Feb 8 '15 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. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 8 '15 at 19:42
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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

  • Definition 1 of that dictionary means to physically have something. Doesn't sound right.... – meatie Feb 4 '15 at 19:57
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    The shape of something is certainly a physical attribute. – stangdon Feb 4 '15 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 '15 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 '15 at 0:01
  • So, "he held his composure" is the same as "he kept his composure"? – meatie Feb 7 '15 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."

  • Exactly. To "hold" some attribute is to keep that attribute from changing. – Stephen Dunscombe Feb 4 '15 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 '15 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. – WhatRoughBeast Feb 6 '15 at 0:12
  • So, "he held his composure" is the same as "he kept his composure"? – meatie Feb 8 '15 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. – WhatRoughBeast Feb 10 '15 at 5:03

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