pick·up | \ˈpik-ˌəp \

Definition of pickup 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : one that is picked up: such as

a : a hitchhiker who is given a ride

b : a temporary chance acquaintance

c : a player acquired from another team

2 : the act or process of picking up: such as

a : a revival of business activity

b : acceleration

c : the act or technique of making the acquaintance of a previously unknown person especially for amorous purposes

3 : the conversion of mechanical movements into electrical impulses in the reproduction of sound also : a device (as on an electric guitar) for making such conversion

4a : the reception of sound or an image into a radio or television transmitting apparatus for conversion into electrical signals

b : a device (such as a microphone or a television camera) for converting sound or the image of a scene into electrical signals

5 : a light truck having an enclosed cab and an open body with low sides and tailgate

called also pickup truck

6 : a pickup game playing pickup



Definition of pickup (Entry 2 of 3)

: utilizing or comprising local or available personnel especially without formal organization a pickup basketball game a pickup band

pick up


Definition of pick up (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to take hold of and lift up

b : to gather together : collect picked up all the pieces

c : to clean up : tidy

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

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 recompense

e : 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

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

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

6a : revive

b : increase

7 : to resume after a break : continue pick up the discussion tomorrow

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

9 : to provide needed support or assistance to (someone who has faltered or failed, such as a teammate who has made an error) in a collaborative effort … Burns allowed only five hits and did not issue a walk. She also picked up her teammates after several fielding errors.— John Knebels We have faith. We don't panic. Even in all these one-run ballgames, we have trust in each other that we're going to pull it out. We pick each other up. On days we're not pitching it great, our offense gets going and vice versa.— Marco Gonzales

intransitive verb

1 : to recover or increase speed, vigor, or activity : improve after the strike, business picked up the wind began to pick up

2 : to put things in order was always picking up after her

3 : to pack up one's belongings couldn't just pick up and leave

pick up on

1a : understand, appreciate

b : to become aware of : notice

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

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Examples of pickup in a Sentence


The fee pays for garbage pickup. The school bus was late for its afternoon pickup. The truck is scheduled to make a pickup today.


He plays with pickup bands at nightclubs. What's the pickup scene like in this city?


he has a knack for picking up a language in a few weeks pick up all of your things because we have to be off this beach before dark
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Nguyen allegedly climbed into one of four police pickups, which were used to block a road, and urged others to climb over the vehicles to continue their march, the indictment reportedly said. Chris Fuchs /, NBC News, "U.S. citizen arrested during protest in Vietnam scheduled to stand trial," 13 July 2018 The indictment said Nguyen climbed into one of the four police pickups, which were placed to block a road, and urged others to climb over the vehicles to continue their march. Fox News, "Vietnam to try American for disturbing order in protests," 13 July 2018 Earlier this season, park officials heard reports of a black bear sniffing around vehicles and sometimes climbing into the beds of pickups at the Glen Alps Trailhead. Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, "Bear killed after it smashes SUV window and climbs inside at Anchorage trailhead," 6 July 2018 Every Monday evening, dozens of pickups filled with the hopeful pass through a military checkpoint at the edge of the city. Lori Hinnant, The Seattle Times, "Algeria abandons thousands of migrants in Sahara," 25 June 2018 American consumers are shrugging at the sight of pump prices nearing $3 a gallon for the first time in years and plowing ahead with purchases of big pickups and SUVs. Fortune, "Ford F-Series, Jeep Sales Surge as Gas Prices Near $3 a Gallon," 1 June 2018 Most of the credit Tuesday belonged to Smith, who has turned into one of the best offseason pickups for the Marlins -- or at least the one providing the most immediate impact. Clark Spencer, miamiherald, "Marlins end skid, beat Mets for first time | Miami Herald," 22 May 2018 The facility turned out 354,358 of the heftier pickups last year, according to the company's plant production report. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "Ford says idled Louisville workers could be back at work by Monday," 16 May 2018 Most of the potential Democratic pickups are in the Philadelphia suburbs, and three are all but gimmes in the general election. New York Times, "Pennsylvania’s Primary: Congressional Races to Watch," 14 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Allen took an unofficial visit to UK’s campus in June but was unable to play in pickup games with the current Wildcats as originally planned due to a minor injury. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Pendleton County star Dontaie Allen shines as Calipari and Mack watch," 14 July 2018 All of it signals a battle ahead for the midsize pickup market share, analysts said. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "General Motors topping Ford in pickup market share," 12 July 2018 Media: The Baltimore Sun Women usually don’t use pickup lines on male bartenders. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Bar Star: Gee Lee at Yauatcha," 3 July 2018 Among the highlights for Dawson were pickup basketball games with the 6-foot-5 Eldredge. Nancy Kruh, PEOPLE.com, "Devin Dawson Goes Easy on Brett Eldredge with End of Tour Prank: 'We May Have to Up the Ante' Next Time," 21 June 2018 House Democrats, who need a net gain of 23 seats to win the majority, are eyeing possible pickup opportunities in this district and two others where Clinton won in 2016. Nicole Gaudiano, USA TODAY, "Tuesday's elections reward military veterans, bring Stacey Abrams closer to making history," 23 May 2018 That battle has manifested most clearly in a Democratic congressional primary outside Houston, in one of Texas Democrats' best pickup opportunities of 2018. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Georgia's disappointing Democrats," 22 May 2018 In the auto industry's intense pickup truck wars, competition is fierce. David Brinkerhoff, USA TODAY, "Chevrolet, Ram pickup trucks could capitalize on Ford F-150 production shutdown," 9 May 2018 On weekends, his father took him to play in pickup basketball games on the base. Alexandra Wolfe, WSJ, "Ray Allen’s Life After the NBA," 9 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

One of the show’s directors, Janet Mock, announced the news just a day before the series was picked up for a second season. Niki Mcgloster, Essence.com, "The Quick Read: Gabrielle Union Opens Up About Miscarriages and Fertility Issues," 13 July 2018 The women meet while picking up their sons from school. Katherine Schaffstall, The Hollywood Reporter, "'A Simple Favor' Trailer: Anna Kendrick Searches for Missing Blake Lively," 13 July 2018 He was supposed to return home to pick up his wife, but didn't immediately return. Angela Forburger, azcentral, "Mesa man who went missing found safe," 13 July 2018 Once your bag is full, simply seal it and leave it outside for the mail carrier to pick up. Alessandra Puccio /, NBC News, "Finding your (hidden) value," 13 July 2018 For all the details on Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon’s plans for the future, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. Melody Chiu, PEOPLE.com, "Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon Say 'Sensuality' Came Naturally in Their Relationship," 12 July 2018 Netflix eked out a close victory, picking up 112 nominations vs. HBO's 108. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Emmys 2018: Netflix topples HBO in battle for nominations," 12 July 2018 Emmy voters felt otherwise, though the show did pick up nine nominations overall, including in writing and directing categories. Cary Darling, Houston Chronicle, "Here's who got snubbed at the Emmy nominations," 12 July 2018 Liebich was wearing one of his Putin shirts on a recent afternoon when a taxi pulled up in front of his workshop to pick up a passenger. Washington Post, "How the Kremlin turned the Russian president into a global icon," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pickup.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pickup


1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1898, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Learn More about pickup

Phrases Related to pickup

pickup line

Statistics for pickup

Last Updated

30 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pickup

The first known use of pickup was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for pickup



English Language Learners Definition of pickup

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small truck that has an open back with low sides

: the act of going somewhere to get a person or thing that you will then take to another place

: an increase in activity



English Language Learners Definition of pickup (Entry 2 of 2)

: organized informally with people who are available or nearby at the time

: of or relating to the act of trying to meet strangers in order to have brief sexual relationships with them


pick·up | \ˈpik-ˌəp \

Kids Definition of pickup

: a light truck with an open body and low sides

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Comments on pickup

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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