Did you know?

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

make 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.



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
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theymake up
he/she/itmakes up
present participlemaking up
past tensemade up
past participlemade up
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    [transitive] to invent an explanation for something, especially in order to avoid being punished or embarrassed
    He made up some excuse about the dog eating his homework.
  2. 2
    [transitive] to invent a story, poem etc
    They made up a little poem and wrote it in the card.
  3. 3
    [transitive]make up something to combine together to form something larger
    Women make up 40 per cent of the workforce.
    This book is made up of twelve separate short stories.
  4. 4
    [transitive] to prepare or arrange something
    I’ll get the chemist to make this prescription up for you.
    Could you make up a list of all the things we need?
    make up a bed: You should stay the night – I’ll make up a bed for you.
  5. 5
    [transitive]make up something to make an amount or a number complete
    I’m paying £500, and Dave is making up the rest.
  6. 6
    [intransitive] to become friendly with someone again after an argument
    Why don’t you two forget your differences and make up?
    kiss and make up: They argue a lot, but they always kiss and make up.
    make up with: Tom still hasn’t made up with Alice.
  7. 7
    [transitive] to work at different times from usual because you have not worked enough at the normal times
    Sorry I’m late; I’ll make up the time this evening.
  8. 8
    [transitive] to produce something from cloth
    You could make up some new curtains from that material.
  9. 9
    [transitive] to put make-up on someones face
    They made my face up to look like a clown.
See also main entry: make


a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

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