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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.
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.
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.