What is the origin of the expression not hold with with the meaning not agree with? For example:

I don't hold with what you are saying.

  • 2
    The phrase "not hold with" isn't an idiom or a set phrase. You've just encountered a somewhat obsolete meaning of the word "hold", meaning "agree" or "associate myself with". Look up hold in your favorite dictionary, the 2nd or 3rd sense, I'm sure. It will also provide the full etymology (or at least what's known), but it's a sensible extension of the semantic field. In Macmillan, it's the 13th sense, an extension of (physically) support meaning (conceptually) support.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 26, 2016 at 17:22

2 Answers 2


Hold is an old word, at least one thousand years old, coming to us from Old English with the meaning of having, keeping, and containing. The figurative sense of holding something in one's mind has been there since the beginning (The OED cites such a usage in Beowulf.) From around 1200, hold takes the connotation of agreement, esteem, adherence or belief, taking as its object either a noun phrase

I hold this view.

or a clause

I hold that all men are created equal.

(Examples mine.)

or a prepositional phrase with on, at, for, or with, carrying the meaning of siding with or agreeing with. From 1154, the OED cites

Ðat he neuer ma mid te king his brother wolde halden
That he would never more hold with his brother the king.

continuing to 1895

I don't hold with him buying flowers when his children haven't got enough to eat.

These examples all take the person with the agreeable idea or action as the object of the preposition with, but it's a short hop to making the idea the object -- I don't hold with his buying flowers.


The online etymology dictionary has the following entry

hold (v.) Middle English holden, earlier halden, from Old English haldan (Anglian), healdan (West Saxon), "to contain; to grasp; to retain (liquid, etc.); to observe, fulfill (a custom, etc.); to have as one's own; to have in mind (of opinions, etc.); to possess, control, rule; to detain, lock up; to foster, cherish, keep watch over; to continue in existence or action; to keep back from action," class VII strong verb (past tense heold, past participle healden), from Proto-Germanic *haldan (cognates: Old Saxon haldan, Old Frisian halda, Old Norse halda, Dutch houden, German halten "to hold," Gothic haldan "to tend"). Based on the Gothic sense (also present as a secondary sense in Old English), the verb is presumed originally in Germanic to have meant "to keep, tend, watch over" (as cattle), later "to have." Ancestral sense is preserved in behold. The original past participle holden was replaced by held beginning 16c., but survives in some legal jargon and in beholden.

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