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1. To excite or arouse one's emotions. A noun or pronoun can be used between "work" and "up." Try not to work up Mom too much. We just want to have a nice relaxing afternoon. I think you're working yourself up over nothing. I'm sure the doctor will tell you it's nothing.
2. To achieve a new level of ability, responsibility, etc., through continued effort. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "work" and "up." You can work up to the more advanced techniques once you've mastered the basics. Mr. Mahoney famously worked his way up from an entry level position to become the publisher.
3. To gradually build toward something, as a conclusion or climax. A: "What's your point?" B: "Just listen, I'm working up to it." The story simmers, slowly working up to a chilling climax.
4. To produce through effort or exertion. I really worked up an appetite on that hike. Let's grab something to eat.
5. To prepare or produce something, usually quickly or without being completely thorough. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "work" and "up." I can work up a draft of the script, but it won't be anywhere near finished. If you have time, work some slides up for the presentation.
6. To prepare someone for something, especially a medical procedure. A noun or pronoun can be used between "work" and "up." Can you cover the desk for me while I finish working up these patients? I'll be there as soon as I work Mr. Peterson up.
In a state of mental or emotional agitation. Often modified as "all worked up" or "really worked up." You're getting worked up over nothing—I'm sure the doctor will tell you it's nothing. Mom sounded really worked up when I spoke to her on the phone. The professor said she really needed to speak with me later, and now that has me all worked up that I might be failing the course!
work someone up
to get someone ready for something, especially medical treatment. (See also work oneself up.) The staff worked up three patients for surgery that morning. The doctor told the nurse to work Mr. Franklin up for surgery.
work something up
to prepare something, perhaps on short notice. There are some special clients coming in this weekend. We need to make a presentation. Do you think you can work something up by then? I will work up something for this weekend.
*worked up (over something)and *worked up (about something)
excited and agitated about something. (*Typically: be ~; get ~; get oneself ~.) Tom is all worked up over the tax increase. Don't get so worked up about something that you can't do anything about.
1. Arouse emotions; see worked up.
2. Increase one's skill, status, or responsibility through effort, as in He worked up to 30 sit-ups a day, or She worked up to bank manager. Also see work one's way. [Second half of 1600s]
3. Intensify gradually, as in The film worked up to a thrilling climax. [Second half of 1600s]
4. Develop or produce by effort, as in Swimming always works up an appetite. [Second half of 1600s]
1. To arouse the emotions of someone or something; excite someone or something: The skillful politician worked up the crowd. What I read in the newspaper today really worked me up.
2. To increase one's skill, responsibility, efficiency, or status to some level through work: I'm increasing my exercise routine and am slowly working up to 30 sit-ups a day.
3. work up to To intensify gradually to some state: The film works up to a thrilling climax.
4. To develop or produce something by mental or physical effort: I worked up my appetite while mowing the lawn. The doctors worked up a patient profile before making their diagnosis.