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1. verb Literally, to grasp something (as with one's hands) and lift it up vertically. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." Would you please pick up that book from off the floor? Don't go picking these boxes up if your back is injured.
2. verb To purchase something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." 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. Pick up some treats for the kids while you're out, will you?
3. verb To claim, acquire, or retrieve something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." 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.
4. verb To clean, tidy, or organize (some place). In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." 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!
5. verb To acquire an illness, infection, or disease from someone else. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." I think I picked up Tommy's cold. Don't come near me! I don't want to pick anything up from you!
6. verb To increase. They started a bit slow, but sales picked up around the holiday season.
7. verb To accumulate something. I think he'll be able to pick up a few voters in the later stages of the campaign. The car picked up speed as it careened down the hill. You'd be shocked how much germs you can pick up just from walking into the bathroom.
8. verb To detect someone or something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." We picked up a signal that appears to be coming from Saturn! Hmm, I don't think the camera is picking us up. The sonar picked something massive up off the coast of Mexico.
9. verb To resume or start something again. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." 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.
10. verb To improve. 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.
11. verb To give someone a ride in one's vehicle. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." I'll come by your house at 8 o'clock and pick you up. It's illegal to pick up hitchhikers. The bus was so full that it could no longer pick up passengers.
12. verb To lift someone up and carry them. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." My son is constantly asking me to pick him up. I can't get anything done around here! His leg was injured, so the trainers picked up Larry and carried him off the field.
13. verb To become acquainted with someone with the aim of having a sexual or romantic encounter with them. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." 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.
14. verb Of the police, to apprehend someone; to take someone into custody, as for questioning or arrest. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." 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.
15. verb To improve one's mood, condition, or outlook. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." 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!
16. verb To recover or improve one's condition or circumstances, especially after a hardship or difficulty. In this usage, a reflexive pronoun is used between "pick" and "up." The economic crash totally ruined 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.
17. verb To pay a bill, especially to pay for others. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pick" and "up." 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 cost of grad school. I'm going to pick this one up, fellas.
18. noun An acquaintance who was (successfully) pursued with the aim of having a sexual or romantic encounter. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated. He keeps a little black book with the phone numbers of all his pick-ups.
19. noun A pickup truck (a type of truck with an open area behind the cab used for light hauling). In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated or written as one word. I'm thinking about renting a pickup so I can easily haul all the lumber I'll need for the deck.
20. noun An informally arranged sports game. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated. I'd much rather play pick-up than organized basketball, it's just more fun.
21. adjective Describing an informally arranged sports game. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated. You guys interested in a pick-up game?
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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.
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 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.
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.