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To keep at bay

Definitions

  • Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • To keep at bay said of the hunted animal
    • ***

Etymology

Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
These senses show a confusion of two distinct words, according to Murray: (1) to hold at bay = O. Fr. tenir a bay = It. tenere a bada, bay, bada, denoting the suspense indicated by the open mouth; (2) in the phrase 'to stand at bay,' the word points to O. Fr. abai, barking, bayer, to bark.

Usage

In literature:

I gave him as much as I could, almost ruined myself to keep this blackmailer at bay, but all to no purpose.
"The Secret House" by Edgar Wallace
I leaped on the bay, and got him into something approaching a gallop, shouting at the others to keep on, for they were now returning.
"The Crack of Doom" by Robert Cromie
They felt confident of their ability now to keep the outlaws at bay until help arrived.
"The Boy Chums in the Forest" by Wilmer M. Ely
It is imperative to keep the water at bay.
"How it Works" by Archibald Williams
Then if we are unlucky enough to run smack into the beast, we can keep him at bay anyhow until his owners come up and rescue us.
"Jack Winters' Campmates" by Mark Overton
It is always watchful to keep the aliens at bay or to exterminate them.
"The Forerunners" by Romain Rolland
He began whistling and looked out over the landscape to keep his thoughts at bay.
"Ditte: Girl Alive!" by Martin Andersen Nexo
Not content with continuing to keep them at bay, he passed suddenly from defence to attack.
"Dusty Star" by Olaf Baker
One of us is going to talk to Watt while the other keeps St. Cyr at bay.
"The Ego Machine" by Henry Kuttner
Even if he managed to keep Neely and Company at bay?
"Asteroid of Fear" by Raymond Zinke Gallun
Such simple, homely acts seemed to keep at bay the creeping dread.
"Lady Cassandra" by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey
Was it enough to account for her continuing to keep Fillingford at bay?
"The Great Miss Driver" by Anthony Hope
After a little while, when retrospect had taken them some way, they would often, by reading or talking, try to keep it at bay.
"The Furnace" by Rose Macaulay
Desperately did he strive to keep his foes at bay until his friends could come to his relief.
"The Circassian Chief" by W.H.G. Kingston
They were doing their best to keep the Indians at bay while I reloaded.
"The Perils and Adventures of Harry Skipwith" by W.H.G. Kingston
That's just to keep the wolves at bay.
"Makers" by Cory Doctorow
All you have to do is to keep this wretched woman at bay.
"John Marchmont's Legacy, Volumes I-III" by Mary E. Braddon
A few hundreds of Europeans would strive to keep at bay tens of thousands of eager rebels.
"The Red Year" by Louis Tracy
We in Liege will do our utmost to keep the invaders at bay until your brave army arrives.
"The Dispatch-Riders" by Percy F. Westerman
Leave me to weep and watch and keep The worm at bay.
"The Catholic World. Volume III; Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6." by E. Rameur
***

In poetry:

He summoned an army with banners,
To keep his foes at bay;
And, gazing with pride on his palace walls,
He said, "They will stand for aye!"
"King Cotton" by Horatio Alger Jr
Then General McNeill to his men did say,
Forward! my lads, and keep them at bay!
Come, make ready, my men, and stand to your arms,
And don't be afraid of war's alarms
"The Rebel Surprise Near Tamai" by William Topaz McGonagall
Say Bazonka every day
That's what my grandma used to say
It keeps at bay the Asian Flu'
And both your elbows free from glue.
So say Bazonka every day
(That's what my grandma used to say)
"Bazonka" by Spike Milligan
Though mirrors might be hateful for a while,
Women and books would teach his middle age
The fencing wit of an informal style,
To keep the silences at bay and cage
His pacing manias in a worldly smile.
"The Quest XII (Vocation)" by W H Auden
And his only chance, he thought, was to keep them at bay
By preserving the greatest steadiness without dismay,
Until he was out of the forest and on open ground,
Where he thought a place of safety might be found.
"Saved" by William Topaz McGonagall
Wretched henceforth, we see, though late, the witch
Concerned to keep us all with promises
(And for our greater hurt), at bay;
For surely she believes
No woman can be found
Beneath the roof of heaven so dowered as she.
"The Heroic Enthusiasts - Part The Second =Fifth Dialogue=." by Giordano Bruno

In news:

Experts have ways to keep it at bay.
San Francisco fights to keep the ocean at bay.
Offensive line key to keeping Tide at bay .
Battlefield close roads to keep curious ghost hunters at bay on Halloween night.
Take action to keep mosquitoes at bay .
Officials aim to keep West Nile virus at bay .
Together, we can work to conquer the epidemic and keep childhood obesity at bay.
They're hoping to keep at bay Keene, N.H.
Summer is a time when we see more mosquitoes and for FOX 31's Facebook story of the day, locals wanted to know whether or not the spray officials use the keep the insects at bay is harmful to pets.
ITunes Store expands to 119 countries, keeping rivals at bay.
But how to keep the illegal migrants at bay was the challenge faced by the Zirkle-Rainier Fruit Company.
Womens' Tears Proven to Keep Men at Bay.
Do this six-move routine twice a week to keep illotibial band and knee pain at bay.
Kptm.com They Buzz and They Sting : Tips to Keep Stinging Insects at Bay.
It is equipped with a video camera and a stun gun to keep criminals at bay.
***

In science:

Richard Woodard, for fighting the good fight and helping to keep the humans at bay.
Variational Principles in General Relativity
***