'to hold back' means to restrain or stop something working.
- High rates of tax are holding back economic growth.
- He could easily get promotion if he were more a team player. His attitude is holding him back.
'to hold back' can also mean to not say or do something.
- I wanted to tell him but something held me back.
- Although she didn't agree, she held back and didn't say anything.
'to hold down' means to stop something increasing.
- Government is trying to hold down public spending.
- We have to hold down costs if we want to increase our margins.
'to hold down' also means to keep a job even if it is difficult.
- There are lots of women who hold down high powered jobs and have children.
- She was holding down a very responsible position when she was only twenty-three.
'to hold off' means to delay doing something or delay making a decision about it.
- That house won't be on the market very long. Don't hold ;off making an offer.
- You can't hold off much longer, you have to give him an answer.
'to hold on' means to wait for a short time.
- Let's see if he arrives. We can hold on a couple of minutes.
- We can't hold on much longer, we're going to miss the train. We'll have to go without him.
'to hold on' is used frequently on the phone to ask people to wait a few moments.
- I'll just check that for you if you'd like to hold on.
- Could you hold on please while I see if he's available?
'to hold out' means to put something in front of you.
- He was very formal. He held out his hand for me to shake it.
- She held out her glass so that I could refill it.
'to hold out for' means to wait for what you want and not accept less.
- They were on strike for a long time. Holding out for a 10% increase in salary.
- I think we should hold out for a better price. House prices are beginning to rise again.
'to hold up' means to delay something.
- The construction was held up by bad weather.
- Jim was late again. He got held up in heavy traffic on the motorway.