pick up on
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia.
pick up on (something)
To detect or notice something; to become alert to or aware of something. There are a lot of mature jokes in this cartoon that I never picked up on as a kid. Did you pick up on the hostility between Jen and Tom? The cops picked up on his suspicious behavior right away.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
pick up on something
to become alert to something; to take notice of something; to learn or catch on to something. She's real sharp. She picks up on everything. The cop picked up on the car with the expired license plates.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
pick up on
Become aware of, notice, as in The teacher picked up on her nervousness right away. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]
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.
pick up onInformal
1. To take into the mind and understand, typically with speed: is quick to pick up on new computer skills.
2. To notice: picked up on my roommate's bad mood and left him alone.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.