keep down: meaning and explanation
The phrasal verb keep something down means to control something so that it stays at a reduced level. Most often, this refers to noise and financial cost.
When it comes to controlling noise, you can think of the phrase keep it down as a fixed expression. This is what you say when you want someone to be quiet or to stop making so much noise. e.g. I don’t mind you having your friends over, but please keep it down a bit – we don’t want the baby to wake up.
Usually, it is clear from the context what noise we are talking about, so we just say ‘it’. However, it is also fine to specify if you want to: keep the music down, keep the volume down, keep your voice down etc.
Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?
Accent: North America
About the sentence
…I can barely hear myself think…
Barely has the same meaning and usage as hardly: almost not. For example, if you say “I barely slept last night”, then you slept, but only a tiny bit.
“I can hardly hear myself think” is a fixed expression that we can use when we’re complaining about how noisy something is – usually when we’re trying to focus or work and the noise is distracting us.