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

Example Sentences

oxygen uptake by the body the plant's uptake of water a rapid uptake of liquid She's pretty quick on the uptake.
Recent Examples on the Web The same is true for liver cells (metabolism) and kidney cells (filtrate uptake). Carolyn Barber, Fortune Well, 15 Feb. 2023 The manufacturer’s SuperRoot Booster with MycoActive Technology adds beneficial microbes to help plants thrive, promotes strong roots, boosts nutrient and water uptake, and improves the plant’s resilience to drought and stress. Renee Freemon Mulvihill, Better Homes & Gardens, 14 Feb. 2023 Eventually, Biogen halved the price, but there was little uptake. Sue Halpern, The New Yorker, 7 Feb. 2023 Might other types of vaccines improve uptake? Byjennifer Couzin-frankel, science.org, 25 Jan. 2023 Additionally, people who are immunocompromised should wear them, as well as people who live in places with low vaccine uptake. Hanna Webster, Hartford Courant, 25 Jan. 2023 Many state officials aren’t expecting the new shots to drive an immediate surge of booster uptake, said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Jared S. Hopkins, WSJ, 22 Sep. 2022 However, despite successful vaccination programs in some countries, uptake of these protective shots is patchy worldwide — particularly for MenB vaccines where many countries recommend vaccination only for individuals at high risk. Scientific American, 27 Mar. 2023 But uptake of the new boosters has been slow. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 26 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'uptake.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Scots uptake to understand

First Known Use

1816, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of uptake was in 1816

Dictionary Entries Near uptake

Cite this Entry

“Uptake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uptake. Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


up·​take ˈəp-ˌtāk How to pronounce uptake (audio)
: a process especially in a living organism of absorbing and combining with something
oxygen uptake

Medical Definition


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

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