pick up


Definition of pick up

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1a :  to take hold of and lift upb :  to gather together :  collect <picked up all the pieces>c :  to clean up :  tidy

  3. 2 :  to take (passengers or freight) into a vehicle

  4. 3a :  to acquire casually or by chance <picked up a valuable antique at an auction>b :  to acquire by study or experience :  learn <picking up a great deal of knowledge in the process — Robert Schleicher>c :  to obtain especially by payment :  buy <picked up some groceries>d :  to acquire (a player) especially from another team through a trade or by financial recompensee :  to accept for the purpose of paying <offered to pick up the tab>f :  to come down with :  catch <picked up a cold>g :  gain, earn <picked up a few yards on the last play> <picked up her first victory>

  5. 4a :  to enter informally into conversation or companionship with (a previously unknown person) <had a brief affair with a girl he picked up in a bar>b :  to take into custody <the police picked up the fugitive>

  6. 5a :  to catch sight of :  perceive <picked up the harbor lights>b :  to come to and follow <picked up the outlaw's trail>c :  to bring within range of sight or hearing <pick up distant radio signals>d :  understand, catch <didn't pick up the hint>

  7. 6a :  reviveb :  increase

  8. 7 :  to resume after a break :  continue <pick up the discussion tomorrow>

  9. 8 :  to assume responsibility for guarding (an opponent) in an athletic contest

  10. intransitive verb
  11. 1 :  to recover or increase speed, vigor, or activity :  improve <after the strike, business picked up> <the wind began to pick up>

  12. 2 :  to put things in order <was always picking up after her>

  13. 3 :  to pack up one's belongings <couldn't just pick up and leave>

pick up on

  1. 1a :  understand, appreciateb :  to become aware of :  notice

  2. 2 :  to adopt as one's own :  take up

Examples of pick up in a sentence

  1. <he has a knack for picking up a language in a few weeks>

  2. <pick up all of your things because we have to be off this beach before dark>

14th Century

First Known Use of pick up

14th century

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up pick up? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make confused

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • m-ws-new-words-quiz
  • Which word means "inability to recognize faces"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.