Definition 2024


pick up

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.
    When you pick up the bag, make sure to support the bottom.
  2. (transitive) To collect an object, especially in passing.
    Can you pick up a pint of milk on your way home?
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall, The Squire's Daughter, chapterII:
      "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.
    Aren't you going to pick up after yourself?
    • 1967, Beverly Cleary, Mitch and Amy, 2009 HarperCollins edition, ISBN 9780688108069, 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."
  4. (transitive) To collect a passenger.
    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. (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.
  7. (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.
  8. (transitive) To learn, to grasp; to begin to understand.
    It looks complicated, but you'll soon pick it up.
  9. (transitive) To receive (a radio signal or the like).
    With the new antenna, I can pick up stations all the way from Omaha.
  10. (transitive and intransitive with on, by extension) To notice, detect or discern, often used with "on".
    Did you pick up his nervousness? Did you pick up on his nervousness?
  11. (transitive) To point out (a person's behaviour, habits, or actions) in a critical manner.
    She's always picking me up on my grammar.
  12. (transitive and intransitive with on) To meet and seduce somebody for romantic purposes, especially in a social situation.
    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:
      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.
  13. (transitive or intransitive) To answer a telephone. See pick up the phone.
    I'm calling him, but he just isn't picking up!
  14. To pay for.
    The company will pick up lunch with customers for sales calls.
  15. To reduce the despondency of.
  16. 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.
  17. (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.
  18. 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.



pick up (plural pick ups)

  1. (rare) Alternative form of pickup


Derived terms