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1. verb To adjust a musical instrument to achieve the correct or desired pitch or key. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tune" and "up." I love hearing the musicians tune up in the orchestra pit before the performance. You should tune the piano up next week so we can play it during the party.
2. verb To adjust a piece of machinery or equipment to make it work properly or efficiently. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tune" and "up." You'll need to tune the car up before you take it to be inspected this weekend. Make sure you tune up the equipment at least once a month, or it can mess up the production line.
3. noun An adjustment to a piece of machinery or equipment to make it work properly or efficiently. As a noun, the phrase is usually hyphenated. The car needs a tune-up before our trip. It's working well overall, it just has a few parts that need a tweak—nothing a quick tune-up can't fix.
tune something up
Fig. to adjust an engine to run the best and most efficiently. You need to tune this engine up. Please tune up this engine so it will run more economically.
[for one or more musicians] to bring their instruments into tune. You could hear the orchestra behind the curtain, tuning up. We have to tune up before the concert.
Adjust machinery so it is in proper condition, as in I took the car in to be tuned up. [Early 1900s]
1. To adjust some musical instrument to a desired pitch or key: She tunes up the violin for the students. He tuned his cello up before practicing. The orchestra tuned up before the concert.
2. To adjust some machine so as to put it into proper condition: The mechanic tuned up the car. I tune the motor up every few months.
3. To prepare oneself for some activity: The team tuned up for the match with a scrimmage.