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pick (one) up
1. To lift someone up and carry them in one's arms. My son is constantly asking me to pick him up; I can't get anything done around here!
2. To become acquainted with someone with the aim of having a sexual or romantic encounter. I can't believe I let a meathead like him pick me up. We went out to a few different bars trying to pick up chicks, but we didn't have any luck.
3. Of the police, to apprehend someone; to take someone into custody, as for questioning or arrest. They picked the suspect up in a motel on the outskirts of town. The man they picked up was released a few hours later without charge.
4. To allow someone on the street to ride in one's vehicle. The bus was so full that it could no longer pick up passengers. I'll come by your house at 8 o'clock and pick you up. You picked up a hitchhiker? Don't you know how dangerous that is?
5. To improve one's mood, condition, or outlook. Here, have a bite to eat. It will pick you up a bit. I need a cup of coffee to pick me up—I'm falling asleep at the wheel!
6. To detect someone. Our equipment is just able to pick you up. Don't move for a second while we calibrate. Hmm, I don't think the camera is picking us up.
pick (oneself) up
To recover or improve one's condition or circumstances, especially after a hardship or difficulty. The economic crash totally my business, but I picked myself up and got work wherever I could. People all over the state are picking themselves up now that the hurricane has passed.
pick (something) up
1. Literally, to grab hold of something (as with one's hands) and lift it up vertically. Would you please pick up that book from off the floor? Don't go picking these boxes up if your back is injured!
2. To clean, tidy, or organize (some place). Kids, pick up your playroom this instant or you are not getting any dessert tonight! John's upstairs picking his room up. I'm sick of picking up after you!
3. To purchase something from a certain location. Would you pick up a pizza for dinner on your way home from work? I picked up a new book recently. It's supposed to be very good.
4. To claim, acquire, or retrieve something. I need to go pick up my bike from the shop; they said they were finished working on it. I'm heading out to pick up my lawnmower from Steve's house.
5. To acquire an illness, infection, or disease from someone else. I think I picked up Tommy's cold. Don't come near me! I don't want to pick anything up off you!
6. To increase or gather. The car picked up speed and then veered into the lane of oncoming traffic. It started a bit slow, but his campaign gathered momentum and eventually couldn't be stopped.
7. To detect something. We picked up a signal that appears to be coming from Saturn! The sonar picked something massive up off the coast of Mexico. The dogs picked up the scent of the suspect and followed it into the woods.
8. To resume or start something again. And with that, we're out of time. Let's pick this discussion up on Monday, shall we? After I came back from London, we picked things up again as if I had never left.
9. To improve something. The film was pretty boring initially, but it picked up in the second half. It was a rough year, but things have been picking up lately.
pick up the bill
To agree to pay for something. I know it's old-fashioned, but I still think a guy should pick up the bill on a first date. My employers have offered to pick up the bill if I decide to get a master's degree.
pick up the check
To agree to pay for something. I know it's old-fashioned, but I still think a guy should pick up the check on a first date. My employers have offered to pick up the check if I decide to get a master's degree.
pick up the tab
To pay the bill for something, often at a bar or restaurant. Paul said he's picking up the tab tonight, so I'm definitely ordering another drink!
pick someone up
1. to attempt to become acquainted with someone for romantic or sexual purposes. Who are you any way? Are you trying to pick me up? No, I never picked up anybody in my life!
2. [for the police] to find and bring someone to the police station for questioning or arrest. The cop tried to pick her up, but she heard him coming and got away. Sergeant Jones, go pick up Sally Franklin and bring her in to be questioned about the jewel robbery.
3. to stop one's car, bus, etc., and offer someone a ride. Don't ever pick a stranger up when you're out driving! I picked up a hitchhiker today, and we had a nice chat.
4. to go to a place in a car, bus, etc., and take on a person as a passenger. Please come to my office and pick me up at noon. I have to pick up Billy at school.
pick something up
1. Lit. to lift up or raise something from a lower place. Please help me pick this stuff up off the pavement. Pick up every bit of it!
2. Fig. to tidy up or clean up a room or some other place. Let's pick this room up in a hurry. I want you to pick up the entire house.
3. Fig. to find, purchase, or acquire something. Where did you pick that up? I picked up this tool at the hardware store.
4. Fig. to learn something. I pick languages up easily. I picked up a lot of knowledge about music from my brother.
5. Fig. to cause something to go faster, especially music. All right, let's pick up the tempo and get it moving faster. Okay, get moving. Pick it up!
6. Fig. to resume something. Pick it up right where you stopped. I'll have to pick up my work where I left off.
7. Fig. to receive radio signals; to bring something into view. I can just pick it up with a powerful telescope. I can hardly pick up a signal.
8. Fig. to find a trail or route. The dogs finally picked the scent up. You should pick up highway 80 in a few miles.
1. to tidy up. (See also pick up (after someone or something).) When you finish playing, you have to pick up. Please pick up after yourself.
2. to get busy; to go faster. Things usually pick up around here about 8:00. I hope business picks up a little later. It's boring here.
1. Lift, take up by hand, as in Please pick up that book from the floor. [Early 1300s]
2. Collect or gather, as in First they had to pick up the pieces of broken glass.
3. Tidy, put in order, as in Let's pick up the bedroom, or I'm always picking up after Pat. [Mid-1800s]
4. Take on passengers or freight, as in The bus picks up commuters at three stops.
5. Acquire casually, get without great effort or by accident. For example, I picked up a nice coat at the sale, or She had no trouble picking up French. This usage is even extended to contracting diseases, as in I think I picked up the baby's cold. [Early 1500s]
6. Claim, as in He picked up his laundry every Friday.
7. Buy, as in Please pick up some wine at the store on your way home.
8. pick up the bill or check or tab . Accept a charge in order to pay it, as in They always wait for us to pick up the tab. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]
9. Increase speed or rate, as in The plane picked up speed, or The conductor told the strings to pick up the tempo.
10. Gain, as in They picked up five yards on that pass play.
11. Take into custody, apprehend, as in The police picked him up for burglary. [Colloquial; second half of 1800s]
12. Make a casual acquaintance with, especially in anticipation of sexual relations, as in A stranger tried to pick her up at the bus station. [Slang; late 1800s]
13. Come upon, find, detect, as in The dog picked up the scent, or They picked up two submarines on sonar, or I can't pick up that station on the car radio.
14. Resume, as in Let's pick up the conversation after lunch.
15. Improve or cause to improve in condition or activity, as in Sales picked up last fall, or He picked up quickly after he got home from the hospital, or A cup of coffee will pick you up. [1700s]
16. Gather one's belongings, as in She just picked up and left him.
17. pick oneself up. Recover from a fall or other mishap, as in Jim picked himself up and stood there waiting. [Mid-1800s] Also see the subsequent entries beginning with pick up.
1. To lift something or someone up, especially with the hands: He bent over and picked the child up. She hasn't picked up the violin in years. I picked up the phone and answered it. After the tackle, I picked myself up off the ground and walked to the scrimmage line.
2. To collect someone; call for someone: He left to pick up the children from school. I'll stop by your house at 8:00 and pick you up for the movie.
3. To collect or gather something: We picked up all the trash after the barbecue. Please pick your toys up so I can vacuum.
4. To tidy up some thing or place: You can't go outside until you pick up your room. I'm tired of picking up after you.
5. To take on passengers or freight, as of a vehicle: The bus picks up commuters at five stops. The truck will pick its cargo up in Miami.
6. To purchase something casually or by chance: Let's pick up a couple of magazines for the train ride. I picked this coat up at the sale.
7. To acquire knowledge or habits through practice or experience: My parents were afraid that I would pick up bad habits at summer camp. She never studied French in school—she just picked it up when she was working in Paris.
8. To claim something: She picked up her car at the repair shop. He dropped off his clothes at the dry cleaners and picked them up the following day.
9. To improve in condition or activity: Sales picked up last fall.
10. To acquire speed: The wind is starting to pick up. The bike picks up speed on the hill.
11. To cause some speed or rate to increase: The runners picked up the pace. Improvements to efficiency have picked the rate of production up.
12. To contract something, as a disease: I picked up a rare disease while I was traveling in Asia. The children must have picked the virus up at school.
13. To earn, gain, or garner something: Qualified specialists can pick up over $100 an hour.
14. To take someone into custody; arrest someone: The agents picked up two of the smugglers at the border. The police picked me up for questioning.
15. Vulgar Slang To make casual acquaintance with someone, usually in anticipation of sexual relations.
16. To detect something: The crew picked up two submarines on sonar. The signal is so weak that only a special antenna can pick it up. The dogs picked up the scent of the ducks.
17. pick up on To notice something: I picked up on my roommate's bad mood and left him alone.
18. To continue with something after a break: Let's pick up the discussion after lunch. She opened the book and picked the story up where she left off. The sequel picks up ten years after the death of the character in the last book.
19. To prepare a sudden departure: She just picked up and left without telling anyone.