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pick up

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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
  1. 1
    [transitive] to lift someone or something up from a surface

    He picked the phone up and dialled.

    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 tidy

      I've already asked them to pick their toys up.

      I am constantly picking up the things the children leave lying around.

    2. c.
      [transitive] to lift something up and take it away

      Pick up a leaflet from your doctor's.

  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'll pick up my luggage in the morning.

    1. b.
      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

  6. 7
    [intransitive/transitive] to start something again, from the point where you stopped

    We'll pick up this conversation when I come back.

    pick up where you left off:

    He seems to think that we can get back together and just pick up where we left off.

  7. 9
    [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.

  8. 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 in a bar.

  9. 11
    [transitive] informal to earn money

    the huge salaries that footballers pick up these days

  10. 12
    [transitive] informal to win something such as a prize

    The film is tipped to pick up at least three Oscars.

  11. 13
    pick up the bill/tab informal to pay for something

    Her father picks up the tab for her expensive lifestyle.

  12. 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.

  13. 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 paid holiday given to a new employee before they start their job

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