My coworker just sent out an email asking someone to [please] keep abreast for a response. My understanding is that the phrase is keep abreast of x, and that it is used to mean actively keeping up with x, which is supported by the idiomatic definition. (Edit for clarification: The intended meaning in the email is "wait for a response".)

I am aware of the phenomenon of words taking on different meanings in business contexts, but this is not one that I have come across before (in my admittedly short time in the corporate world). Is this commonly used elsewhere?

  • 1
    It's common enough. It's unusual to use it without the "of...", but it's easily understandable here that it's short for "keep abreast of the situation" or similar.
    – Rupe
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 15:19
  • 2
    But wouldn't keep abreast of a situation be the opposite action of wait for a response?
    – Andy
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 15:22
  • Exactly. It isn't asking them to "wait" for a response it's asking them to actively look out for one.
    – Rupe
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 15:29
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    There does seem to be a pattern in Business English of 1. Take idiomatic phrase. 2. Remove prepositions, and possibly object. 3. Expect people to understand what you mean.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 16:14
  • Someone might say 'You can intransitivise any preposition'. But here the preposition is/was 'abreast of'. Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 16:31

2 Answers 2


I wouldn't use the term keep abreast FOR a response - you keep abreast OF something, not FOR something. The former does not really constitute normal use of the term.

  • The distribution of the adverb abreast is far from simple. RHK has: abreast adv: 2. informed; aware; up-to-date but thenn gives the example using what I'd call a MWV or perhaps a compound preposition usage: to keep abreast of new developments. Collins stipulates necessary complements for the adjective usage: abreast 2. (foll by: of or with) up to date (with); fully conversant (with) Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 16:35
  • Its use in most of the recent contexts is metaphorical.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 17:44

Both 'for' and 'of' are correct but the latter is presently favored:

Historical usage in a (legally produced) governmental contract:

In order to meet these requirements, up-to-date equipment is a prime factor. New construction equipment is required in order to keep abreast for the new methods and techniques of construction work. **-Hearings Cong. 84 sess. 1 Appropriations v. 2 1955.**


A book on a family's colonial history:

These things must come whenever people or nations advance in education and science, besides mechanical arts. Constitutional governments must advance and keep abreast for the protection of the people.-Beighley, 1737-1934; acorns from colonial oaks

  • In the second example you give, 'for' is not linked to 'abreast' in the same sense as the first example.
    – Andy
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 17:35

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