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pick up - definition and synonyms

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phrasal verb
Word Forms
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present tense
I/you/we/theypick up
he/she/itpicks up
present participlepicking up
past tensepicked up
past participlepicked up
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  1. 1
    [transitive] to lift someone or something up from a surface
    He picked the phone up as soon as it rang.
    She rushed to pick up the baby as soon as it started to cry.
    1. a.
      [transitive] to lift things up and put them in the place where they are kept in order to make a place neat
      I’ve already asked them to pick their toys up.
      I am constantly picking up the things the children leave lying around.
    2. b.
      [intransitive/transitive] American to make a place clean and neat
    3. c.
      [transitive] to lift something up and take it away
      Pick up a pamphlet for me too.
  2. 2
    [transitive] to go and meet someone or something that you have arranged to take somewhere in a vehicle
    Will you pick me up after the party?
    I need to pick up my luggage before leaving.
    1. a.
      informal to arrest someone and take them away in a car
      He was picked up in the early hours of Thursday morning.
  3. 3
    [transitive] to learn a new skill or start a habit without intending to
    She picked up a few German phrases while staying in Berlin.
  4. 4
    [transitive] informal to get an illness
    Most tourists are worried that they’ll pick up a nasty stomach bug.
  5. 5
    [transitive] informal to buy something
    a market where you can pick up some amazing bargains
    Synonyms and related words
  6. 6
    [transitive] informal to receive an electronic signal on a radio or similar piece of equipment
    I don’t think this thing can pick up foreign stations.
  7. 7
    [transitive] informal to earn money
    the huge salaries that professional athletes pick up these days
  8. 8
    [transitive] informal to win something such as a prize
    The movie is tipped to pick up at least three Oscars.
  9. 9
    [transitive] to notice a smell or sound, or to notice that someone or something is present
    The dogs must have picked up his scent.
  10. 10
    [transitive] informal to start talking to someone because you want to have sex with them
    She went home with some man she picked up at a bar.
  11. 11
    [intransitive/transitive] to start something again, from the point where you stopped
    We’ll pick up this conversation later.
    pick up where you left off: He seems to think that we can get back together and just pick up where we left off.
  12. 12
    [intransitive] to improve
    They won’t let him out of the hospital until his health has picked up.
  13. 13
    pick up the bill/tab informal to pay for something
    Her father picks up the tab for her expensive lifestyle.
  14. 14
    pick up the pieces to try to return to a normal life after a difficult experience
    He walked out on his family, leaving his wife to pick up the pieces.
  15. 15
    pick up the threads (of something) to return to a situation that existed before something went wrong
    After the death of a partner, it can be difficult to pick up the threads of your life.
See also main entry: pick

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a fashion trend in which people intentionally wear ordinary, inexpensive, widely-available clothing

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boutonnière

a flower or small bunch of flowers worn on the lapel of a jacket on special occasions

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