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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!
See also: pick, tab, up

keep tabs on (someone or something)

To routinely monitor or observe something. It was revealed that the FBI kept tabs on him for years just because he once attended a meeting of a radical group. Keep tabs on the amount of feedback we get so that we know how many people this issue affects.
See also: keep, on, tab

run (up) a tab

To incur or accumulate charges that one must pay at a later time or date. It's a bit hypocritical for these politicians to be pushing legislation that raises the price of alcohol, while they're all there running up huge tabs at the parliament bar each week. Don't worry about the cost of anything while you're here; I'm running a tab with the hotel.
See also: run, tab

keep tab(s) (on someone or something)

 and keep track (of someone or something)
Fig. to monitor someone or something; to follow the activities of someone or something. I'm supposed to keep track of my books. Try to keep tabs on everyone who works for you. It's hard to keep tabs when you have a lot of other work to do. I can't keep track of the money I earn. Maybe someone else is spending it.
See also: keep, tab

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.
See also: pick, up

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.
See also: pick, up

pick up

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.
See also: pick, up

pick up the tab

 and pick up the check
to pay the bill. Whenever we go out, my father picks up the tab. Order whatever you want. The company is picking up the check.
See also: pick, tab, up

run a tab

to accumulate charges on a bill at a bar or tavern. They won't let me run a tab here. I have to pay for each drink as I order it.
See also: run, tab

tab someone for something

to choose someone for something. The director tabbed Sam for a walk-on part. I wanted her to tab me for a part.
See also: tab

keep tabs on

Observe carefully, keep a record of. For example, I hate having my boss keep tabs on my every move, or We've got to keep tabs on outgoing mail so we can keep track of postage. This expression uses to tab in the sense of "an account." [Late 1800s] Also see keep track.
See also: keep, on, tab

pick up

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.
See also: pick, up

pick up the tab

COMMON If you pick up the tab, you pay for something, often something that you are not responsible for. Pollard picked up the tab for dinner. If your girlfriend is always picking up the tab, the inequality in your relationship may be difficult for you both to handle.
See also: pick, tab, up

run up a tab

If someone runs up a tab, they do things that cause them to owe money. The 62-year-old pop star has run up a tab of $2.1 million at Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair.
See also: run, tab, up

keep tabs on someone/something

COMMON If you keep tabs on someone or something, you make sure that you know what they are doing or what is happening to them, often in order to control them. We know that somebody was keeping tabs on her. It's their job to keep tabs on the financial situation. Note: Originally, this was an American expression which uses an American sense of `tab', meaning an account or bill, which can be used to keep a record of what someone spends.
See also: keep, on, someone, something, tab

keep tabs (or a tab) on

monitor the activities or development of; keep under close observation. informal
1978 Mario Puzo Fools Die Jordan knew that Merlyn the Kid kept tabs on everything he did.
See also: keep, on, tab

pick up the tab

pay for something. informal, chiefly North American
See also: pick, tab, up

pick up the ˈtab (for something)

(informal) pay the bill, especially for a group of people in a restaurant, etc: Her father picked up the tab for all the champagne at the wedding.
See also: pick, tab, up

keep (close) ˈtabs on somebody/something

(informal) watch somebody/something very carefully; keep informed about somebody/something: I’m not sure about Johnson — we’d better keep tabs on him until we know we can trust him.I’m keeping tabs on the number of private phone calls you all make from the office.
See also: keep, on, somebody, something, tab

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.
See also: pick, up


1. n. a bill (for something). (see also chit.) Marlowe paid the tab and left quietly.
2. n. a tablet (of medicine). Take a couple of aspirin tabs and call me in the morning.
3. tv. to identify someone. I couldn’t quite tab her, but when she started talking I knew right away who she was.


mod. well-dressed. (Streets.) She’s really tabbed in some nice threads.
See also: tab

keep tabs on

To observe carefully over time: Let's keep tabs on expenditures.
See also: keep, on, tab
References in periodicals archive ?
Further, TABS provides real-time coding maintenance so that changes to a client's hierarchy are reflected in the data immediately instead of the once-per-year industry standard.
While there have been a few border skirmishes between tab sites and music publishers, it's probably precisely because amateur tab is merely an interpretation of a song that it hasn't become an issue to rival the onetime all-out war over MP3, which takes an actual piece of music and places it on the Internet.
Murphy and Emblem Club member Ethel McGee originally collaborated to organize the communitywide collection campaign to collect the drink-can tabs.
The Ronald McDonald Pull-Tab Campaign recycles aluminum tabs for cash, which helps support the Ronald McDonald House.
EFI solutions, including the Fiery embedded server and Digital StoreFront, designed for TABS customers, are available through TABS' nationwide dealer locations.
The Safe Cell Tab relies on technology first pioneered by NASA to protect astronauts from hazardous electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) like microwaves in space.
Tab cut, one bank of tabs (1/8th cut), with clear mylar on tab and mylar reinforcement on back side of tabs, along binding edge.
AIIM ON DEMAND is a valuable event for strengthening relationships with our customers and industry partners," said Mark Mathews, vice president, marketing, TABS.
recognized for its innovative mailing equipment, folders/inserters and mailing system software, has introduced the HT12 Tabber that automatically applies adhesive tabs or wafer seals to a wide range of mail pieces.
Based on survey feedback from more than 1,800 respondents managing over 75,000 products in 47 countries, TABS was designated as a platinum award winner in the "Ease-of-Use" category and received gold awards in both "Productivity" and "Best-Priced Multifunctional Product" (MFP) categories.
I had a couple of user requests for a toolbar to be able to search for tabs on Taborama.
Offering the most reliable copiers in the industry is a goal Toshiba has always strived for, and this direct feedback from the professionals who really know - our dealer service managers - shows that we are achieving that goal," said Mark Mathews, vice president, Marketing, TABS.
With headquarters in Irvine, TABS comprises four divisions: the Electronic Imaging Division, Toner Products Division, Document Solutions Engineering Division and Toshiba Business Solutions (TBS), a subsidiary which operates a network of acquired office equipment dealers.