Russian Language Blog

Russian Verbs With Prefixes: Держать Posted by on Jun 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

holding hands

Image from Pixabay

Remember that time we covered verbs with prefixes on this blog? Let’s combine various prefixes with the popular verb держать, to hold, to form new words. I can only list several of the many verbs, so feel free to add in the comments!

The base verb is держать, which normally means to hold something.

Мама держит ребёнка за руку (The mother is holding her child’s hand).


Задержать (perf.)/задерживать (imp.) is to detain.

Полиция задержала преступника (The police have detained the criminal).

The reflexive verb, задерживаться means to be held up somewhere.

Я задержусь на работе (I’m going to stay at work late).


Выдержать (perf.)/ выдерживать (imp.) is to withstand something.

Студент не выдержал нагрузки и бросил учебу (The student couldn’t withstand the workload and quit his studies).


dog running

Image from Pixabay

Удержать (perf.)/удерживать (imp.) means to maintain a hold on something or to hold someone or something back (prevent someone from doing something or something from happening).

Я не удержала собаку, и она выбежала на дорогу (I couldn’t hold my dog back, and it ran into the road).

И сказал он это таким добрым, домашним голосом, что Катя с трудом удержала слёзы. (He said it in such a kind, warm voice that Katya could barely hold back tears.) [Василий Гроссман. Жизнь и судьба, ч. 1 (1960)]

This verb can also be used reflexively, удержаться, to mean refrain or hold back from doing something.

Мы не удержались и спросили хозяина, за сколько он продал свою компанию (We couldn’t hold back and asked the owner what he sold his company for).

A different meaning of удержать is to withhold a sum of money.

Франшиза может быть условной или безусловной. Как правило, у прокатных организаций она безусловная, т. е. не важно, виноваты ли вы в ДТП или нет, с вас всё равно удержат некую сумму. (A deducible may be conditional or non-conditional. Rental companies usually have non-conditional deductibles, meaning that whether or not you are at fault in an accident, you will still be charged a certain amount.) [Денис Литошик. Автомобиль напрокат\Тариф на час (2002) // «Автопилот», 2002.05.15]


Cдержать is generally close to the “hold back” meanings of удержать. This is especially true for the reflexive verb сдержаться.

Было видно, что он раздражён, но старается сдержаться. (You could tell he was annoyed but was trying to hold back.) [Ю. О. Домбровский. Обезьяна приходит за своим черепом, часть 1 (1943-1958)]

Сдержать also collocates with certain verbs to form set expressions. For example, сдержать обещание/слово is to keep one’s promise/word.

Спортсмен сдержал обещание и вернулся в родной город (The athlete kept his promise and returned to his hometown).


Содержать (imp.) can mean “to contain something.”

Этот продукт не содержит искусственных красителей (This product does not contain artificial colors).

A related noun, содержание, can refer to a table of contents.

Содержать can also mean “to support someone financially.”

Она с 18 лет содержит семью (She’s been providing for her family since she was 18).


Поддержать (perf.)/поддерживать (imp.) means “to support someone/something.”

Ученые поддержали идею создания нового университета (The researchers have supported the idea of creating a new university).

The related noun is поддержка, support.

Are there are other words related to держать you know? Do you have a hard time with any of them?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. mjk63:

    What about the word подержанный, meaning “used” or “second hand”, as in a book? Does that fit in here?

    • Maria:

      @mjk63 Yes, this word is definitely related. Just note that there is no corresponding verb meaning “to use something for the first/second time.” Подержать is simply the perfective counterpart of держать and means “to hold for some time.”

  2. Peter Ellis:

    Thanks for another very useful blog post. One of my many problems in learning Russian is remembering vocabulary, so getting a ‘root’ and adding short – and so, more memorable – prefixes is a real boon.

    ‘Держать’ is already in my lexicon and I knew ‘подержать’ for ‘support’ but the others were new to me … so thanks!
    The very useful book Levaraging your Russian with roots, prefixes and suffixes gives quite a few other words based on ‘держать’. Here a couple of examples of the dozen or so it lists (though I don’t know if they are popularly used or not; maybe they’re ‘literary’ or old-fashioned):

    First, there’s the verb ‘выдержать’, meaning ‘endure’. For example: ‘Ради своего ребёнка, мать может выдержать любые трудности’; ‘For the sake of her child, a mother can endure any difficulty’.

    The book also has ‘удержать’, meaning ‘keep’ but uses the imperfective form of the verb (у)держивать. For example: ‘Не удерживай меня дома, я уже взрослая и хочу жить самостоятельно’; ‘Don’t keep me at home, I’m an adult now and want to live on my own’.

    There’s an interesting adjective ‘выдержанный’, meaning ‘restrained’. For example: ‘Мой коллега по работе очень выдержанный человек’; ‘My colleague at work is a very restrained person’.

    The book also has ‘содержание’, but rather than meaning ‘table of contents’, translates it as ‘plot’. For example: ‘Расскажи мне содержание романа «Преступление и наказание»’; ‘Tell me the plot of the novel Crime and Punishmen”.

    • Maria:

      @Peter Ellis Peter, thank you for the book tip. These are all useful additions.
      Just note that подержать is the perfective of держать, while поддержать is to support.

  3. samonen:

    These are the kind of posts serious Russian-learners need.

    • Maria:

      @samonen Thank you, Samonen. I’ll do a few more then.