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In an English-language text I wrote recently, I used this sentence

It ain't pretty, but it'll keep!

to describe the durability of a newly erected wall that (due to my poor masonry skills) looks hideous, but should withstand the floods it'll be shielding the property against.

In my native German dialect, this is a valid use of "keep."

But is it actually in English, too?

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    There's nothing wrong with it that I can see.
    – Mick
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 10:57
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    If you were saying that your wall was merely of indifferent quality, you might say that it will do, meaning suffice. Keep in this context describes durability rather than quality, as you say, although the word is most frequently used with respect to food - how soon it needs to be eaten. Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 12:06
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    Eat that cake now, because it won't keep. (But your sample sentence isn't really idiomatic. This sense of "keep" is mostly used to describe foodstuffs and other perishable items.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 12:59
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    That was my suspicion, thanks! That might make a valid answer....
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 13:06

2 Answers 2

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Yes, "keep" can be used to refer to something that will maintain its structure or condition. Your use refers to the wall continuing to stand, despite a lack of aesthetic refinement. Alternatively, you can use the term "hold".

The phrase "do the trick" could also be used if you prefer to emphasize the utility (keeping the flood water out) versus the sturdiness of the structure.

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  • This use of 'keep' is clear - it also sounds folksy and dialectal.
    – Dan
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 0:02
  • it's perfectly acceptable to a native speaker, but it's also very idiomatic.
    – user175542
    Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 0:50
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Yes , keep can be used as a synonym for last or endure because if you want to make something last you keep it , leaving keep and last to have almost the same meaning and that's whY a synonym is two words that have the same meaning or mean almost about the same thing .

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