Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

take up - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb [transitive]
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theytake up
he/she/ittakes up
present participletaking up
past tensetook up
past participletaken up
  1. 1
    to start doing something regularly as a habit, job, or interest

    I took up smoking when I was in high school.

    Chris has taken up jogging.

    take up a post/position:

    The new surgeon will take up her position in May.

  2. 2
    to fill a particular amount of space or time

    These files take up a lot of disk space.

    I’ll try not to take up too much of your time.

  3. 3
    take up something to accept an offer or a challenge (=an offer to fight or compete) that someone has made to you

    One of our greatest athletes has taken up a new challenge.

  4. 4
    to reduce the length of a piece of clothing or some curtains
  5. 5
    to continue to discuss or deal with an idea, problem, or suggestion

    Mrs. Pankhurst took up the cause of women’s rights.

    She fell silent, and her brother took up the story.

  6. 6
    take up arms formal to start a battle using weapons

    Would you be willing to take up arms for this cause?

See also main entry: take
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play