Definition of hold (or keep) someone/something at bay in English:

hold (or keep) someone/something at bay


  • Prevent someone or something from approaching or having an effect.

    ‘drugs were keeping severe pain at bay’
    • ‘So long as the network is adequately protected, hackers can be kept at bay and prevented from stealing the personal information required to commit frauds in your name.’
    • ‘During the building of the Towers engineers had to hold back the old river muck and keep it at bay to prevent the collapse of the unstable grounds during excavation.’
    • ‘The movie was only finished early last month and reviewers have been kept at bay, to prevent illegal copies of the film being made and to ensure that it's release will be accompanied by an unprecedented blast of publicity.’
    • ‘Half-a-dozen campfires were lit for the purpose of beating the chill and to keep wild animals at bay, while the forest personnel stood guard.’
    • ‘Prison chiefs have tightened security after an inmate climbed onto a roof and kept guards at bay for five-and-a-half hours.’
    • ‘Officers believe the hotline will play a major role in the fight to keep these dealers at bay.’
    • ‘At the same time air vents were blocked with cloth to keep the cold winds at bay.’
    • ‘They were able to block the doors and hold looters at bay.’
    • ‘Researchers at the University of Edinburgh now aim to discover if an aspirin a day really does keep heart attacks at bay.’
    • ‘There is now the possibility that the fence built to keep the risk of attack at bay will never open on the grounds that it is just too risky.’