The phrase "hold the line" usually refers to maintaining a position or staying strong in a challenging situation. Often heard during phone calls to indicate waiting, it has broader applications and is also used in battles, management, or any situation requiring resilience or persistence.
When someone says "hold the line," they're asking you to stay put and not give in, even when things are tough. It can be used during a battle to mean don't retreat, or in a work setting to mean keep doing what you're doing, even if it's hard. For example, during a tough game, a coach might say, "We need to hold the line and not let them score.
Let's look at its main meanings and how to use it:
The phrase “hold the line” has been used in military contexts, referring to soldiers maintaining their positions during combat. In telecommunication, the phrase “hold the line” has been used since 1912, warning that one is away from the receiver. Today, it is used idiomatically to mean firmly maintaining one’s viewpoint, principles, or situation, refusing to change one’s practices or plans.
"Gim me hold, sir! Gim me hold! I'll haul him in he cried. But I would not trust my drum to him; I Ict him hold the line for a minute or two, while I blew on my sore fingers."
- St. Nicholas, Volume 4, 1877
To get a better feel for when to use "hold the line," let's look at some examples from various situations:
This phrase also shows up a lot in pop culture, usually when people need to stand firm or keep their position.
Here are some real-world examples:
Here are some other phrases you can use to express the same idea:
"Hold the line" can mean two things. In a literal sense, it often refers to keeping a phone line open. In a figurative sense, it means to maintain a position or to stand firm, often in the face of challenges or opposition.
You can use it both literally and figuratively. For example, "Please hold the line while I transfer your call" or "We need to hold the line and not give in to the pressure."
The phrase shows up in a range of places. In professional settings, it might mean maintaining a company's standards. In sports, it could refer to defending a lead. In daily conversation, it might relate to personal boundaries or beliefs.
Yes, "hold the line" is understood in many English-speaking countries, although the context might vary.
Definitely. It can show up in articles, emails, or messages, often to emphasize the need for sticking to a course of action or to request that someone waits on the phone.
While both phrases mean to stand firm, "hold the line" often implies a collective effort or a broader context, whereas "stand your ground" is more individualistic.
The phrase is usually seen as neutral or polite. However, how it's received depends on the tone and situation.
In military contexts, "hold the line" usually refers to maintaining a defensive position against an enemy force.
Yes, you can use "hold the line" when talking about sticking to moral or ethical principles in challenging situations.
No, "hold the line" doesn't specify a time limit. It's more about the act of remaining firm, whether that's for a short or long period.
This phrase is versatile and used in a lot of different scenarios. Whether you're talking about keeping a phone line open or standing firm in your beliefs, "hold the line" is a useful expression for both.
Here's a quick recap: