early 13c., "act of holding;" mid-15c. as "that which is held," verbal noun of hold (v.). Old English healding meant "keeping, observance." As a football (soccer) penalty, from 1866. Meaning "property held," especially stock shares, is from 1570s. Holding operation is from 1942.
"in possession of narcotics," 1935, special use of present-participle adjective from hold (v.).