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1. To bind, fasten, or secure someone or something with string, cord, rope, etc. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tie" and "up." Make sure you tie up the boats at the dock so they don't get swept down the river. Will you tie these bundles of paper up for me, please? Action movie heroes are always able to escape even after they get tied up.
2. To keep someone busy, occupied, or engaged. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tie" and "up." The meeting tied up all our staff for most of the afternoon. I just have a couple of questions, so I won't tie you up for too long.
3. To block, impede, or delay something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tie" and "up." The construction has been tying up traffic on Main Street for nearly a year now. They've tied our application up in court, so we haven't made any real progress lately.
4. To commit something to a particular use, thus making it unavailable for anything else. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tie" and "up." I wish I hadn't tied our savings up in that real estate scheme. We've tied up too many of our resources in this project already.
5. In a competition or contest, to achieve a score equal to one's opponent. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tie" and "up." Their best bet is to try to tie the game up before halftime. One more correct answer and you'll be able to tie up the score.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
tie (with someone) (for something)
to have the same score as someone for the prize in some contest. I tied with Joel for first place. I tied for the trophy with Joel.
tie someone or something up
1. Lit. to bind someone or something securely. The sheriff tied the crooks up and took them to a cell. He tied up the bandit. I tied the package up and put a label on it.
2. Fig. to keep someone or something busy or occupied. Sally tied up the photocopy machine all afternoon. The meeting tied me up all afternoon.
tie something up
1. Lit. to tie strings or cords on something in order to close or contain it. Please tie this package up securely so I can mail it. Tie up your shoes!
2. Fig. to conclude and finalize something. (See also tie someone or something up.) Let's try to tie up this deal by Thursday. We'll manage to tie our business up by Wednesday at the latest.
3. Fig. to block or impede something, such as traffic or progress. The stalled bus tied traffic up for over an hour. The stalled bus tied up traffic.
tie up (some place)
[for a skipper] to moor a ship or boat some place. We need to tie up some place for the night. The captain tied up at the dock and sent the first mate for fuel.
Fig. busy. How long will you be tied up? I will be tied up in a meeting for an hour.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Fasten securely; also, moor a ship. For example, Can you help me tie up these bundles? or The forecast was terrible, so we decided to tie up at the dock and wait out the storm. The first usage dates from the early 1500s, the nautical usage from the mid-1800s.
2. Impede the progress of, block, as in The accident tied up traffic for hours. [Late 1500s]
3. Keep occupied, engage, as in She was tied up in a meeting all morning. [Late 1800s]
4. Make funds or property inaccessible for other uses, as in Her cash is tied up in government bonds. [Early 1800s]
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 fasten, secure, or bind someone or something with or as if with a cord, rope, or strap: I tied up the package with twine and sent it off. The robbers tied the bank tellers up and locked them in the vault.
2. To secure something, such as a vessel, to a shore or pier; dock something: Did you remember to tie the boat up? I tied the canoe up at the end of the dock. The captain pulled the ship alongside the pier, and the crew tied up.
3. To be secured to a shore or pier; dock: The ship tied up at the end of the pier.
4. To keep someone or something occupied; engage someone or something: The kids have tied up the phone all evening, talking to their friends. A project this large will tie our resources up for months. The senator is tied up in a meeting and won't be able to take your call.
5. To place some funds so as to make them inaccessible for other uses: Don't tie up all your cash in long-term investments. The bank has tied the money up in bad loans.
6. To equal an opponent's score in some contest: We tied up the game with minutes remaining. A touchdown will tie the game up. The game is all tied up at 10 points apiece.
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.
mod. busy. I was tied up and couldn’t get to the phone.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.