Definition of pick something up in US English:

pick something up

phrasal verb

  • 1Collect something that has been left elsewhere.

    ‘Wanda came over to pick up her things’
    • ‘Once you have obtained your ticket, your luggage will be picked up shortly.’
    • ‘Whilst we sat waiting for our food to arrive, a steady stream of customers came to pick up take-away orders.’
    • ‘Then her father came to pick up her things - her clothes, tennis shoes, a bottle of mineral water.’
    • ‘He just came to pick up his things - and to give Brooke back his wedding ring!’
    • ‘His brother picked it up and delivered it to him within moments.’
    • ‘‘They told me to take the bag home and they informed Royal Mail, who came and picked it up,’ she said.’
    • ‘I wish I could have personally met you when I came to pick up the suitcase on Tuesday.’
    • ‘But one day when I came to pick up my things they weren't there. There was nothing there, no sign of them anywhere.’
    • ‘If your magic runs a bit short, you can order a copy from the local bookstore, and the hotel will pick it up and deliver it to you after midnight.’
    • ‘When she came to pick up her things I made her some lunch and we had a little chat.’
    • ‘But by the time they went to pick up the suitcase, it could not be found.’
    • ‘I'm afraid she doesn't work here anymore, just this morning she came to pick up her things.’
    • ‘Anyway, they came to pick up her things that were stored in the basement this summer.’
    • ‘He would have had to hire a private contractor to come pick that stuff up.’
    • ‘I was emailed to pick it up from another building.’
    1. 1.1informal Pay the bill for something, especially when others have contributed to the expense.
      ‘as usual, we had to pick up the tab’
      • ‘Unlike the board, whose legal bills are picked up by the public, opponents of school closings often run out of money to continue their fights.’
      • ‘The rest of the bill is picked up by private insurance companies who decide what they'll pay in their corporate boardrooms.’
      • ‘In which event, any medical bills will be picked up by the taxpayer, not by the company.’
      • ‘Who picked up the tab for his childhood immunisations and his education?’
      • ‘When they played well, he handed out cash bonuses and picked up bar tabs. When they lost, he still picked up the tab.’
      • ‘It is understood around €3 million has been incurred by the aviation regulator's office, whose costs will be picked up by the authorities in addition to its own bill.’
      • ‘But the Council is £200,000 in the red, the executive committee heard yesterday, and if that is still the case next year the bill will be picked up by the authority.’
      • ‘She added: "In line with 'polluter pays' principle it's time the tobacco companies picked up the tab for the harm their products are doing."’
      • ‘So there's a sort of change in the attitude towards social welfare in the sense that people believe that they're being forced to pick that bill up, but generally people felt that more money should be available.’
      • ‘The bills were picked up by some of the biggest names in the business world.’
    2. 1.2North American Tidy a room or building.
      • ‘I set Lucie on the couch and picked up the room making it just as neat as it was when we left.’
      • ‘Every day someone made up the beds and picked up the room while we were out.’
      • ‘The cabin steward picked up the room and made the beds at least twice a day, and she was very nice.’
      • ‘So, instead of just verbally telling him, "Pick up your room," we write down: Put dirty clothes in laundry basket, Put magazines on shelf, Put LEGOs back in box.’
      • ‘We picked up the room, got dressed, and prepared Brandon's breakfast.’
  • 2Obtain, acquire, or learn something, especially without formal arrangements or instruction.

    ‘he had picked up a little Russian from his father’
    • ‘She was all right with it when her girlfriends found out but she was not too comfortable now that unfamiliar people around her were picking this information up.’
    • ‘It's the only way to learn and it's amazing how quickly you can pick it up.’
    • ‘He has certainly picked things up quicker than I imagined.’
    • ‘He picked it up quickly - watched a lot of TV and learnt to read English.’
    • ‘Vic had learned to drive at fourteen, from his old man, and had picked it up as easily as fishes learn to swim.’
    • ‘They also learn very quickly and easily pick things up.’
    • ‘He picked it up quickly, learning by himself because he thought it was fun.’
    • ‘Posters around the village give details of the events and information where competition forms can be picked up.’
    • ‘Coming from a keyboard, having learned to read, once I picked it up and learned how to blow it, the music came quicker.’
    • ‘I started to learn Thai, I just seem to pick it up and now can speak it pretty well.’
    find, discover, locate, come across, stumble across, happen on, chance on, unearth, obtain, come by, come to have, get, receive, procure
    learn, get to know, acquire, acquire a knowledge of, acquire skill in, become competent in, become proficient in, master
    hear, hear tell, find out, get to know, get wind of, be informed of, be told, learn, be made aware of, be given to understand
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Catch an illness or infection.
      • ‘Previously worn and dirty clothes contain the same foul odour producing bacteria and you will pick the infection up again within seconds of contact.’
      • ‘But she is very susceptible to infections and if she were to pick something up then it could be fatal.’
      • ‘Once chlamydia has been successfully treated, it won't come back unless a new infection is picked up.’
      • ‘For every patient and their family there is no acceptable level of MRSA but we all know that when people are in an acute hospital system, there is a chance that an infection can be picked up.’
      • ‘Any infection or disease present in the slurry can be picked up by these people and animals in the course of their headlong, indiscriminate rush to the killing scene.’
      • ‘They in turn will multiply the infection and the later lambs to pick it up will become very badly infected.’
      • ‘The mosquitoes pick the virus up from biting infected pigs or waterfowl and then pass the virus on when they bite humans.’
      • ‘Many new cases are picked up by men sleeping with infected prostitutes in places like Thailand, where the virus is rife.’
      • ‘Meningococcal meningitis vaccines is also required by the authorities as these infections can be picked up from fellow travellers (carriers).’
      • ‘Some infections can be picked up by pregnant women and transferred to the developing baby via the placenta.’
      catch, contract, get, become infected with, become ill with, come down with, go down with
      View synonyms
  • 3Detect or receive a signal or sound, especially by means of electronic apparatus.

    • ‘The reflected sound waves are picked up by the crystal element and transformed back into electric signals.’
    • ‘The signals were picked up late yesterday after an all-day search for the spacecraft, which had suddenly stopped communicating after its launch, the US scientists had said.’
    • ‘These electromagnetic waves are picked up by your car's antenna and then converted into recognizable noise - music, talk shows, and the like - by the tuner.’
    • ‘It amplifies them, and sends them out, just like a radio, and the receiver picks them up in the other person ear.’
    • ‘These signals are picked up by a handheld receiver.’
    • ‘Of the 18 access points whose signals were picked up, 13 were sending unencrypted messages.’
    • ‘These signals are picked up by a computer and turned into detailed pictures.’
    • ‘The reflected signals are picked up by microphones in the cane handle, processed by a miniature computer, then converted into pulses which the user can feel through his hand.’
    • ‘The air force forced a light plane to land on Saturday after an emergency signal was picked up indicating the aircraft had been hijacked.’
    • ‘One of its benefits will be anyone sending distress signals from land or sea will know immediately if their signal has been picked up.’
    receive, detect, get, hear
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    1. 3.1also pick up on Become aware of or sensitive to something.
      ‘she is very quick to pick up emotional atmospheres’
      • ‘The faster these changes are picked up the quicker you will be able to react to drops in rankings.’
      • ‘Body work performed on owners and pets works well because animals pick up on stress and often mimic their owners.’
      • ‘Babies and toddlers do pick up on stress in the home and often act out what they are unable to put into words.’
      • ‘The problems were picked up when an infection control nurse, who started work with the PCT this spring, examined procedures at the surgery.’
      • ‘Sufferers normally have a one-in-three chance of survival, depending on how early the symptoms are picked up.’
      • ‘She's pretty sensitive at picking these things up.’
      • ‘A lot of infections can be picked up very early.’
      • ‘Children pick up on stress so if you're unhappy, they will be too.’
      • ‘The penalty for misclassifying a genotoxic compound (false negatives that reflect low sensitivity) is low as it would be picked up in the later regulatory test.’
      • ‘These emotions can be picked up; dogs smell fear, a child knows if it is loved or not, and so forth.’
    2. 3.2 Find and take a particular road or route.
      • ‘I dropped down into Balmaha, which seemed to be mostly closed, and picked up the road heading North alongside the Loch.’
      • ‘We then picked up the road again and followed it through to our next downhill, a rocky, fast, narrow trail which deposits the rider at great speed at the foot of Biggin Hill.’
      • ‘I'm already looking forward to returning in a few years to pick the road up where I've left off.’
      • ‘Eventually, after asking for directions a number of times, we picked up the road south and headed off.’
      • ‘You can pick the road up in Saunces, at the top of town next to Viares Square, home of the Town Hall.’
  • 4also pick upResume something.

    ‘they picked up their friendship without the slightest difficulty’
    • ‘Last year they had a falling out but in the past few months had made amends with each other and picked up their friendship where they had left off.’
    • ‘They picked up their relationship almost from where they'd left off, but it wasn't the same.’
    • ‘The two young men were acquainted with each other and picked up their friendship again Sunday.’
    • ‘The evening ended with a good-night kiss, and they quickly picked up their relationship where they'd left off. "We fell in love all over again," Dave says.’
    • ‘I didn't get a chance to finish it but I think I'll pick it up soon.’
    • ‘They laughed about their shared affection for Martinis and picked up their friendship where they'd left off.’
    begin again, begin, take up, start again, start, resume, recommence, carry on, go on, continue
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1also pick up on Refer to or develop a point or topic mentioned earlier.
      ‘Dawson picked up her earlier remark’
      • ‘Soon after, the Melbourne Age reported on the lone refugee's plight, and the story was picked up widely.’
      • ‘I think it's interesting what traditions are picked up on and what countries are referenced in that.’
      • ‘He picked up his remark, replying "Yes, taking care of eight children is a man sized job."’
      • ‘And given the scientist adherence to a kind of Creative Commons ethos, their developments could be picked up and expanded upon by anyone in those fields, but no one could actually own the development itself.’
      • ‘A lot of the Cultural Commission's recommendations have been picked up and used.’
      • ‘I am appalled this issue was not picked up on in the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee.’
      • ‘For when he did make an outrageous remark it was picked up on, and he was fired within hours.’
      • ‘He picked up on a story that had been on ABC News two days earlier.’
      • ‘Those things have not been picked up on because we are in Opposition, and they are what anybody would expect to hear from an Opposition.’
      • ‘The press picked up his remark and on the front page of the newspaper the next day, I was depicted in a cartoon.’
      • ‘But my sister made a very moving speech and picked it up on my behalf.’
      • ‘When these inaccuracies were picked up on by the blog community and exposed by several news outlets, the story was removed from the News web site.’
      • ‘I realise that some people have been frustrated that their particular concerns have not been picked up on, but a number of the issues raised were important but were not within the scope of the bill.’
      • ‘Someone here other than us has finally picked this story up.’
      • ‘Often in things like this, one journalist builds a list of instances, and then it gets flipped from story to story as other journalists pick it up.’
    2. 4.2 (of an object or color) attractively accentuate the color of something else by being of a similar shade.
      • ‘The room is carpeted with a loop pile in a medium toned brown that picks up the browns in the fireplace travertine.’
      • ‘The landscape picks up the blues, the green-brown, and the grey-browns of the foreground.’
      • ‘This will provide a nice grassy feeling underfoot, and you can easily pick this color up in throw pillows or other accents.’
      • ‘The area rug picks up the blues in the pre-existing furniture while introducing a range of browns into the mix.’
      • ‘It is framed in natural wood, which picks up the browns of the bureau on which the cup and letter rest.’
      • ‘The focal is a lampwork bead with a dark coral base and encased in silvered glass which picks up the blues and creams very well from the necklace.’