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pick up definition


This page has 22 definitions of pick up in English. Pick up is a verb and noun. Examples of how to use pick up in a sentence are shown. Also define these 43 related words and terms: lift, grasp, raise, put down, collect, drop off, clean up, organized, mess up, passenger, media, publish, story, improve, increase, speed up, restart, resume, learn, understand, realize, receive, signal, notice, detect, discern, pick up on, meet, seduce, romantic, hit on, answer, pick up the phone, pay, despondency, control, soccer, mark, record, notch up, sports, foul, and pickup.

See also: pickup, Pickup, and pick-up



pick up (third-person singular simple present picks up, present participle picking up, simple past and past participle picked up)

A man attempting to pick up large weights.
  1. (transitive) To lift; to grasp and raise.
    Antonym: put down
    When you pick up the bag, make sure to support the bottom.
  2. (transitive) To collect an object, especially in passing.
    Antonym: drop off
    Can you pick up a pint of milk on your way home?
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall [pseudonym; Arthur Hammond Marshall], chapter II, in The Squire’s Daughter, New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead and Company, published 1919, OCLC 491297620:
      "I don't want to spoil any comparison you are going to make," said Jim, "but I was at Winchester and New College." ¶ "That will do," said Mackenzie. "I was dragged up at the workhouse school till I was twelve. Then I ran away and sold papers in the streets, and anything else that I could pick up a few coppers by—except steal. []"
  3. (transitive or intransitive) To clean up; to return to an organized state.
    Antonym: mess up
    Aren't you going to pick up after yourself?
    • 1967, Beverly Cleary, Mitch and Amy, 2009 HarperCollins edition, →ISBN, p.28:
      The floor was strewn with bright snips of origami paper, a crumpled drawing, and one dirty sock, which Amy now shoved under the bed with her foot. ¶ "You're lucky," said Marla. "My mother makes me pick up my room every single day."
    • Organized definition
      Of a person, characterised by efficient organization.
  4. (transitive) To collect a passenger.
    Antonym: drop off
    I'll pick you up outside the library.
  5. (transitive) To collect and detain (a suspect).
    The cops have picked up the man they were looking for.
  6. (transitive, media) To obtain and publish a story, news item, etc.
    The story does not seem to have been widely picked up.
    • 2019, Li Huang; James Lambert, “Another Arrow for the Quiver: A New Methodology for Multilingual Researchers”, in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, DOI:10.1080/01434632.2019.1596115, page 3:
      News of this notice from the university was picked up by local media and had the effect of raising the ire of some citizens who saw this as an attack on ‘Chinese heritage’[.]
    • Media definition
      The middle layer of the wall of a blood vessel or lymph vessel which is composed of connective and muscular tissue. (1 of 4 media definitions)
  7. (intransitive) To improve, increase, or speed up.
    Prices seem to be picking up again.
    I was in bed sick this morning, but I'm picking up now.
  8. (intransitive) To restart or resume.
    Let's pick up where we left off yesterday.
    • 2012 July 18, Scott Tobias, AV Club The Dark Knight Rises
      Picking up eight years after The Dark Knight left off, the film finds Gotham enjoying a tenuous peace based on Harvey Dent’s moral ideals rather than the ugly truth of his demise.
    • Restart definition
      The act of starting something again.
  9. (transitive) To learn, to grasp; to begin to understand; to realize.
    Synonym: learn
    It looks complicated, but you'll soon pick it up.
  10. (transitive) To receive (a radio signal or the like).
    With the new antenna, I can pick up stations all the way from Omaha.
    • Receive definition
      To take, as something that is offered, given, committed, sent, paid, etc.; to accept; to be given something. (1 of 10 receive definitions)
    • Signal definition
      A sequence of states representing an encoded message in a communication channel. (1 of 10 signal definitions)
  11. (transitive) To notice, detect or discern; to pick up on
    Did you pick up his nervousness?
  12. (transitive) To point out (a person's behaviour, habits, or actions) in a critical manner.
    She's always picking me up on my grammar.
  13. (transitive and intransitive with on) To meet and seduce somebody for romantic purposes, especially in a social situation.
    Synonym: hit on
    He was in the fabric store not to buy fabric but to pick up women.  She could tell he intended to pick up on her.  Did you pick up at the party last night?
    • 2016 May 23, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, “Apocalypse pits the strengths of the X-Men series against the weaknesses”, in The Onion AV Club[1]:
      Xavier—first seen as an adult in First Class trying to pick up a woman in a bar—is impotent, at least metaphorically, and will eventually see all of his luxuriant hair fall out.
    • Romantic definition
      Of a work of literature, a writer etc.: being like or having the characteristics of a romance, or poetic tale of a mythic or quasi-historical time; fantastic. (1 of 6 romantic definitions)
  14. (transitive or intransitive) To answer a telephone.
    Synonym: pick up the phone
    I'm calling him, but he just isn't picking up!
  15. (intransitive, of a phone) To receive calls; to function correctly.
    I've tried his home number a couple times, but it isn't picking up.
  16. To pay for.
    The company will pick up lunch with customers for sales calls.
  17. To reduce the despondency of.
  18. To take control (physically) of something.
    • 2010 December 29, Chris Whyatt, “Chelsea 1-0 Bolton”, in BBC:
      Bolton were then just inches from taking the lead, but the dangerous-looking Taylor drilled just wide after picking up a loose ball following Jose Bosingwa's poor attempted clearance.
  19. (soccer) To mark, to defend against an opposition player by following them closely.
    • 2011 January 18, David Dulin, “Cardiff 0-2 Stoke”, in BBC:
      And soon after, no-one picked up Shotton who was free to power a 12-yard header over from another Pennant corner, before Pennant sent a free kick straight at Cardiff keeper Tom Heaton.
    • Mark definition
      Boundary, land within a boundary.
      1. A boundary; a border or frontier.
      2. A boundary-post or fence.
      3. A stone or post used to indicate position and guide travellers.
      4. A type of small region or principality.
      5. A common, or area of common land, especially among early Germanic peoples.
      (1 of 35 mark definitions)
  20. To record; to notch up.
    • 2011 September 28, Tom Rostance, “Arsenal 2-1 Olympiakos”, in BBC Sport:
      And the home side survived without any late scares to pick up the first win of their Group F campaign.
    • Notch Up definition
      To achieve; to gain by successful effort.
  21. (sports) To behave in a manner that results in a foul.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


pick up (plural pick ups)

  1. Rare form of pickup.
    • Pickup definition
      An electronic device for detecting sound, vibration, etc., such as one fitted to an electric guitar or record player.
      1. In a record player, an electromagnetic component that converts the needle vibrations into an electrical signal.
      2. electromagnetic coil receiver of metal string oscillations
      (1 of 14 pickup definitions)


Derived terms