Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various devices used to fasten something securely.
  • n. Biology An organ or structure of attachment, especially the basal, rootlike formation by which certain seaweeds or other algae are attached to a substrate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Something to or by which an object can be securely fastened.
  • n. A root-like structure that anchors aquatic sessile organisms, such as seaweed, other sessile algae, stalked crinoids, benthic cnidarians, and sponges, to the substrate.
  • n. Actinomycosis.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Something used to secure and hold in place something else, as a long flat-headed nail, a catch a hook, a clinch, a clamp, etc.; hence, a support.
  • n. A conical or branching body, by which a seaweed is attached to its support, and differing from a root in that it is not specially absorbent of moisture.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That which is used to secure and hold something in place; a catch; a hook; a clamp.
  • n. Support; hold.
  • Holding fast; firm; steady.
  • n. The root-like organ of attachment developed by many of the algæ. Also haptere and rhizoid.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. stick to firmly
  • n. restraint that attaches to something or holds something in place

Etymologies

hold +‎ fast (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But now of the holdfast, which is our special subject.

    Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 454 Volume 18, New Series, September 11, 1852

  • "bench-screw," as it is called; that is, a screw which passes through the bench into the back of the work, which may thus be turned about at will; also, if the work is very thick, they hold it in position by means of a bench "holdfast," a kind of combined lever and screw; but neither of these contrivances is likely to be required by the beginner, whose work should be kept within manageable dimensions.

    Wood-Carving Design and Workmanship

  • We stopped along the way for (an enormous) brunch at The (infamous) Friendly Toast in Portsmouth New Hampshire, then visited Portland where (after some explorations prompted by missing the ferry because we couldn't find parking) joined yuki_onna and justbeast in their secret island holdfast. chang3002. met us on the ferry.

    last car to pass. here i go.

  • Even at the risk of losing a little piece of history, most seem to holdfast to the idea of onwards and upwards.

    Ronda Carman: Out With the Old?

  • Brown found a home and a holdfast in the written word, cultivating a profound and abiding belief in the illuminating power of literature.

    Brown, Rosellen.

  • Benjen Stark remains aloof and unwelcoming to Tyrion as the Wall-bound party stops outside a holdfast.

    Entertainment Weekly mentions Thrones

  • But the man they found bound hand and foot to the holdfast wall awaiting the king's justice was old and scrawny, not much taller than Robb.

    GRRM provides short casting update

  • McDowell rode among his men and exhorted them to holdfast.

    FORGE OF EMPIRES 1861-1871

  • In her drinking too, she was very punctual and particular, requiring a pint of mild porter at lunch, a pint at dinner, half – a – pint as a species of stay or holdfast between dinner and tea, and a pint of the celebrated staggering ale, or Real Old Brighton

    The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

  • Psychologically, it is often the masculine element of life that wants to hold on – it can become a holdfast.

    THE FOUNTAIN: An Archetypal Review of a Great Movie That Speaks to Our Times.

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