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1. To trip, stumble, or lose one's footing. You're going to trip up walking around with your shoelaces untied like that!
2. To cause someone to trip, stumble, or lose their footing. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "trip" and "up." Kids, don't go running around me while I'm cooking, or you might trip me up! He was given a yellow card for tripping up the other player.
3. To falter, stammer, hesitate, or make an error, mistake, or blunder. I tripped up during the presentation when I started reading off the wrong card.
4. To cause someone to falter, hesitate, or make an error. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "trip" and "up." She always tries to trip up her opponents with taunts and mind games. The crowd's boos and jeers really tripped me up during my turn.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
trip someone up
1. Lit. to cause someone to trip; to entangle someone's feet. (Someone includes oneself.) The rope strewn about the deck tripped him up. The lines tripped up the crew.
2. Fig. to cause someone to falter while speaking, thinking, etc. Mary came in while the speaker was talking and the distraction tripped him up. The noise in the audience tripped up the speaker.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Make or cause someone to make a mistake, as in The other finalist tripped up when he was asked to spell "trireme," or They tripped him up with that difficult question. [Second half of 1700s]
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 stumble or fall: I tripped up walking upstairs and hurt my ankle.
2. To cause someone to stumble or fall: The soccer player tripped up her opponent with a slide tackle. The broken stair tripped him up.
3. To make a mistake: I would have done better on the test if I hadn't tripped up on the last section.
4. To cause someone to make a mistake: His inability to focus on his work trips him up every time. The unclear phrasing of the question tripped her up.
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.