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dent something up

to mar or make depressions in something. I don't want to dent my car up. It's still new. He dented up my new bike!
See also: dent, up

make a dent in something

1. Lit. to make a depression in something. I kicked the side of the car and made a dent in it. Please don't make a dent in the side of the house.
2. Fig. to use only a little of something; to make a small amount of progress with something. Look at what's left on your plate! You hardly made a dent in your dinner. I've been slaving all day, and I have hardly made a dent in my work.
See also: dent, make

make a dent in something

also put a dent in something
to have an effect on something All the talk about kids eating too much sugar hasn't seemed to make a dent in the candy business.
Usage notes: sometimes used without in: Technology cannot fix education - no amount of technology will make a dent.
See also: dent, make

make a dent in something

  (British, American & Australian) also put a dent in something (American)
to reduce the amount or level of something The roof repairs made quite a dent in our savings. (often negative) Police efforts have hardly put a dent in the level of drug trafficking on the streets.
See also: dent, make

make a dent in

Begin to accomplish or consume something, as in I've barely made a dent in this pile of correspondence, or Help us put a dent in this pie. This metaphoric expression alludes to striking a blow to make a physical indentation in something.
See also: dent, make
References in periodicals archive ?
As will be evident, testing two different condensing units allow a general performance degradation trend to be identified with increasing dented fin area.
A random number generator selected the pattern in which the fins were to be dented.
This time, worming occurred on the roll surface as a result of high nip pressure in a concentrated area of a roll, which dented the steel core through the ceramic coating.
A 40-year-old Newbury Park man was arrested Friday after he hit a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk at such speed that the impact dented his pickup truck and knocked the license plate off, police said.
Officers recovered a license plate at the Reseda scene and discovered Allen's dented truck in the parking lot of a Woodland Hills motel, said Detective Tom Whetzel of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Roof indentations -- looks warped or dented, sometimes exposing the fiberglass in asphalt shingles
With the nail out, you can restore the dented wood around the nail hole.
Steel sounds good (with a baked enamel finish), but I'm afraid it will be dented by all my kids playing in front of it.