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1. To turn one's gaze or attention from something else, often by literally lifting one's head or turning one's eyes upward. Can you please look up from that book for a second? I'm trying to talk to you! Kids these days barely ever look up from their phones.
2. To perform a search for some particular information, as on a search engine, in a book, etc. Can you look up the definition of this word for me?
3. To contact someone, typically when you are in the area where they live. A noun or pronoun can be used between "look" and "up." Be sure to look me up if you're ever in New York. You should look up Aunt Maureen when you're out West.
4. To improve or become better. In this usage, the phrase is typically used in the continuous tense ("looking up"). My freelance business is finally looking up—I've had potential clients calling me non-stop!
Appearing as if improvement will begin or continue into the future. Now that businesses have started returning, the country's economy is finally looking up.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
look someone or something upand hunt someone or something up
1. to seek someone, a group, or something out. I lost track of Sally. I'll try to look her up and get in touch with her. lam going to look up an old friend when lam in Chicago. I am going to hunt that old gang up. Ted came into town and looked up his favorite pizza place.
2. to seek information about someone or something in a book or listing. I don't recognize his name. I'll look him up and see what I can find. I'll look up this person in a reference book. She looked herself up in the telephone book to make sure her name was spelled correctly.
look up (from something)
to gaze upwards; to stop reading or working and lift one's gaze upward. She looked up from her reading and spoke to us. Mary looked up as we came into the room.
to show promise of improving. My prospects for a job are looking up. Conditions are looking up.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Search for in a book or other source, as in I told her to look up the word in the dictionary. [Late 1600s]
2. Call on or visit, as in I'm going to look up my friend in Chicago. [Mid-1800s]
3. Become better, improve, as in Business is finally looking up. [c. 1800]
4. look up to. Admire, respect, as in The students really looked up to Mr. Jones. [Early 1700s]
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.
1. To direct one's gaze upward: Look up at that cloud; it looks like a dog!
2. To search for information about someone or something from a reference source, such as a book or a file system: He looked up the word "gullible" in the dictionary. I forgot her phone number, so I looked it up on the Internet.
3. To seek out and visit or contact someone: We looked up an old friend when we visited Boston. I looked my college roommate up, and we got together to talk about the old days.
4. To become better; improve: Things are looking up now that the weather's better.
5. look up to To hold someone in high regard: I look up to my parents.
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.