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build (up)on (something)
1. To use something as the foundation on which to construct (something else). A noun or pronoun can be used between "build" and "(up)on." The city council has already given us permission to build on this land. They built the old house upon a foundation of sand, and it unsurprisingly sank into the ground over time.
2. To use something as a starting point that one develops or adds to, as of an argument or topic of conversation. A noun or pronoun can be used between "build" and "(up)on." Would anyone like to build on Katie's point about romanticism in the text? The prosecution built their entire case upon the defendant's police interviews.
See also: build
build on (something)
1. Literally, to construct or assemble (something) on top of something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "build" and "on." The local council is finally allowing companies to build on the vacant plots of land on the outskirts of the city. Tom is building a new shed on the back patio.
2. To use something as a starting point upon which additional details, information, content, etc., can be formed or conceived. OK, class, let's build on Janet's idea. What else does this passage tell us about the protagonist's motivation? If the government would commit to building on the existing legislative framework instead of trying to scrap the whole thing, they could create something that truly benefited most citizens.
3. To use something as a starting point from which some new is created, such as an idea, argument, narrative, etc. A noun or pronoun can be used between "build" and "on." She built her entire argument on the data presented in scientific article that was later proven to have been falsified. The director made it clear that he was eager to build more films on the rich lore of the book series.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
build (up)on something
1. to construct something on a particular space. (Upon is more formal and less commonly used than on.) Are you going to build upon this land? Yes, we will build on it.
2. to start with something and add to it. (Upon is more formal and less commonly used than on.) Our progress has been good so far. Let's build on it. We will build upon the success of our forebears.
build something (up)on something
1. Lit. to construct something on the base of something else. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) The ancients built their houses upon the houses of earlier people.
2. Fig. to add to and develop something that already exists. We have a good reputation and we must build on it. He has to build on his strong friendships with the customers.
build something on(to) somethingand build something on
to construct an extension onto a building. We are going to build a garage onto this side of the house. We will build on a new garage. The people next door are not going to build anything on.
build on(to) somethingand build on
to add to something by constructing an extension. Do you plan to build onto this house? Yes, we are going to build on.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Also, build upon. Add as an extension; use as a basis or foundation. For example, They decided to build on an addition, or She was building all her hopes on passing the exam. John Locke had this idiom in his treatise on government (1689): "Sovereignty built on 'property' . . . comes to nothing." [Late 1600s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
build onor build upon
1. To construct something on the base of something else: She wants to build a new house on that hill. The pioneer built a small cabin upon the plain.
2. To use something as a basis or foundation on which to develop something else: The company built its hiring policy on the principle of fairness. The efficiency of our department is built on hard work.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.