up·​take | \ ˈəp-ˌtāk How to pronounce uptake (audio) \
plural uptakes

Definition of uptake

1 : the act or action of grasping with the mind : understanding, comprehension usually used in the phrases quick on the uptake and slow on the uptake Djuna was a very haughty lady, quick on the uptake [=quick to learn or understand], and with a wisecracking tongue that I was far too discreet to try and rival.— Robert McAlmon "Unfortunately, I had to hex Kingsley too, or it would have looked very suspicious," said Dumbledore in a low voice. "He was remarkably quick on the uptake, modifying Miss Edgecombe's memory like that while everyone was looking the other way …"— J. K Rowling In fact I am forming the impression that I am generally a little slow on the uptake. A real lunk, sometimes.— Martin Amis Such knowledge of popular cultural lore becomes, in fact, a principal criterion for selecting new creative recruits. No one wants to work with a creative who, like account executives and clients, is slow on the uptake.— Robert Jackall et al.
2 : an act or instance of absorbing and incorporating something Here, we show observations indicating substantial variability in the CO2 uptake by the North Atlantic on time scales of a few years.— Andrew J. Watson et al. especially : the absorption or incorporation of a substance into a living organism, tissue, or cell Many bacteria communicate with one another through the secretion and uptake of small signaling molecules. Science In muscle and adipose tissue, insulin stimulates the uptake, storage, and use of glucose. — David E. Moller et al. Although most tricyclic antidepressants inhibit neuronal uptake of noradrenaline and serotonin, their mechanism of action remains unclear. — Rita Raisman et al. Eventually, the roots become grossly misshapen, impeding a plant's uptake of water and nutrients from soil. — Christen Brownlee — see also reuptake
3 : the act of using, participating in, adopting, or taking advantage of an available product, service, opportunity, etc. … increased uptake of colonoscopy was a result of decreased use of other screening modalities rather than an overall increased rate of uptake of colorectal screening.— Vickie L. Shavers et al. In my August column, "Missing the Boat on Broadband," I wondered why broadband uptake has hit a plateau, and I expressed amazement that more people didn't find the offer of ten times the speed at double the cost an attractive proposition.— Bill Machrone The idea, which has floated around for months without getting much uptake from European decision-makers, is to scarf up Greece's unaffordable debt on the open market and exchange it for new, more affordable long-term bonds issued by a (presumably) reformed Greek government.— Peter Coy
4 : a flue leading upward The large uptake or flue pipe between the boilers and the chimney was damaged.The Record-Argus (Greenville, Pennsylvania) … in the nickel smelting process, an uptake flue is monitored, when the volume percentage of oxygen is more than 3%, nitrogen is used as carrier gas to blow the deoxidizer …Environmental Patent News

Examples of uptake in a Sentence

oxygen uptake by the body the plant's uptake of water a rapid uptake of liquid She's pretty quick on the uptake.
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Recent Examples on the Web But the Delta variant, slow vaccine uptake and a widespread return to pre-pandemic behavior brought a new wave of infections that knocked the President's aspirations well off course. Paul Leblanc, CNN, 30 Dec. 2021 In Central and Eastern Europe in particular, low vaccination uptake despite ample supply of doses, combined with the spread of the more transmissible delta variant, have created public health crises in many countries. Washington Post, 8 Nov. 2021 That could be a problem in industries with continued low vaccine uptake, including trucking. Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, 8 Nov. 2021 Since studies of e-cigarettes revealed heavy metal uptake, similar findings from structurally similar cannabis vaporizer devices shouldn’t be too surprising. Chris Roberts, Forbes, 31 Oct. 2021 Pan credited high vaccination uptake and widespread compliance with health orders as factors in driving case rates down. Aidin Vaziri, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Sep. 2021 The move sets up the U.K. as a potential test case for how distribution—and uptake—of the vaccine might unfold in other countries. WSJ, 2 Dec. 2020 Broader uptake of vaccines could have averted 163,000 deaths between June and November alone. Adam Rogers, Wired, 30 Dec. 2021 There are many reasons for relatively poor uptake of vaccines in the U.S. Joshua Cohen, Forbes, 23 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'uptake.' 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 uptake

1816, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for uptake

Scots uptake to understand

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Dictionary Entries Near uptake

upsy freeze



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Last Updated

18 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Uptake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uptake. Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for uptake



English Language Learners Definition of uptake

: the process by which something is taken in by the body, a plant, etc.
: the ability to learn new things, to understand what is happening or being said, etc.


up·​take | \ ˈəp-ˌtāk How to pronounce uptake (audio) \

Medical Definition of uptake

: an act or instance of absorbing or incorporating something especially into a living organism, tissue, or cell In muscle and adipose tissue, insulin stimulates the uptake, storage, and use of glucose.— David E. Moller et al., The New England Journal of Medicine Although most tricyclic antidepressants inhibit neuronal uptake of noradrenaline and serotonin, their mechanism of action remains unclear.— Rita Raisman et al., Nature

More from Merriam-Webster on uptake

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for uptake

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about uptake


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