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make up (third-person singular simple present makes up, present participle making up, simple past and past participle made up)

  1. (transitive) To constitute; to compose, to form.
    Synonyms: compose, form; see also Thesaurus:compose
    • 1920, M. D. Eder, Dream Psychology, translation of original by Sigmund Freud:
      The words "dream interpretation" were and still are indeed fraught with unpleasant, unscientific associations. They remind one of all sorts of childish, superstitious notions, which make up the thread and woof of dream books, read by none but the ignorant and the primitive.
    • 2013 September–October, Katie L. Burke, “In the News: Photosynthesis Precursor”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 5, New Haven, Conn.: Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, DOI:10.1511/2013.104.328, ISSN 0003-0996, OCLC 891112584, archived from the original on 3 September 2013, page 328:
      Oxygen levels on Earth skyrocketed 2.4 billion years ago, when cyanobacteria evolved photosynthesis: [...]. The evolutionary precursor of photosynthesis is still under debate, and a new study sheds light. The critical component of the photosynthetic system is the water-oxidizing complex, made up of manganese atoms and a calcium atom.
  2. (transitive) To compensate, fill in or catch up.
    He can make up the time next week.
    I plan to make up for my failed midterm.
    Cuba took limited free market-oriented measures to alleviate severe shortages of food, consumer goods, and services to make up for the ending of Soviet subsidies.
  3. (transitive) To invent, imagine, or concoct (a claim, story, etc.).
    He was a great storyteller and could make up a story on the spot.
  4. (transitive, cooking) To assemble, or mix.
    I can make up a batch of stew in a few minutes, but it will take a few hours to cook.
  5. (transitive) To apply cosmetics or makeup to.
    Synonyms: cosmeticize, fard
    Let's leave as soon as I make up my face.
  6. (intransitive) To resolve, forgive or smooth over an argument or fight.
    They fight a lot, but they always manage to make up.
  7. To overcome a disadvantage.
  8. To make social or romantic advances to; to pay court (to).
  9. Genetic material, the genetic 'makeup' of a living creature.

Usage notesEdit

The object in all transitive senses can come before or after the particle. If it is a pronoun, then it must come before the particle.

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.