make up

See also: makeup, make-up, and Make-up



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

  1. To build or complete.
    1. (obsolete) To build, construct (a tower, city etc.). [14th–15th c.]
    2. (obsolete) To build up (a bank, wall etc.) where it has fallen away; to repair. [15th–17th c.]
      • 1611, Bible (Authorized Version), Ezekial XIII.5:
        Yee haue not gone vp into the gaps, neither made vp the hedge for the house of Israel.
    3. (transitive) To compensate for (a deficiency, defect etc.); to supply (something missing). [from 15th c.]
      He can make up the time next week.
      • 2011 January 15, Saj Chowdhury, “Man City 4 – 3 Wolves”, in BBC Sport[1], archived from the original on 30 September 2018:
        The Argentine found Dzeko and his killer ball was timed brilliantly for the Ivorian, who made up 90 yards, to slot in.
    4. (intransitive) To compensate (for). [from 18th c.]
      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.
      • 1945 August 17, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter 7, in Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, London: Secker & Warburg, OCLC 3655473:
        The corn ration was drastically reduced, and it was announced that an extra potato ration would be issued to make up for it.
      • 1963, Margery Allingham, “Meeting Point”, in The China Governess: A Mystery, London: Chatto & Windus, OCLC 483591931, page 232:
        Meanwhile Nanny Broome was recovering from her initial panic and seemed anxious to make up for any kudos she might have lost, by exerting her personality to the utmost. She took the policeman's helmet and placed it on a chair, and unfolded his tunic to shake it and fold it up again for him.
      • 2011 February 6, Alistair Magowan, “West Ham 0 – 1 Birmingham”, in BBC Sport[2], archived from the original on 5 July 2018:
        Roger Johnson came closest to scoring for the visitors in the first half when he headed over from six yards following Lee Bowyer's cross, but he made up for that by producing some sterling defending to head clear Obinna's bullet centre.
  2. To assemble, prepare.
    1. To compile or draw up (a list, document etc.). [from 14th c.]
    2. To form the components of (a whole or total); to combine to produce. [from 16th c.]
      Synonyms: compose, form; see also Thesaurus:compose
      • 1920, M. D. Eder, Dream Psychology, translation of original by Sigmund Freud:
        The words "dream interpretation" […] 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[3], 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:
        The critical component of the photosynthetic system is the water-oxidizing complex, made up of manganese atoms and a calcium atom.
    3. To put together (a substance, material, garment, medicine etc.) into a specific form; to assemble. [from 16th c.]
      I can make up a batch of stew in a few minutes, but it will take a few hours to cook.
    4. To invent or fabricate (a story, claim etc.). [from 17th c.]
      He was a great storyteller and could make up a story on the spot.
    5. (transitive, intransitive, reflexive) To prepare (someone) for a theatrical performance by means of costume, cosmetics etc.; (now chiefly) to apply cosmetics or makeup to (a face, facial feature). [from 18th c.]
      Synonyms: cosmeticize, fard
      Let's leave as soon as I make up my face.
      • 1959, Anthony Burgess, Beds in the East (The Malayan Trilogy), published 1972, page 617:
        She rushed into her bedroom to make up.
  3. To arrange or advance.
    1. (obsolete) To arrange (a marriage); to organise (a treaty). [16th–19th c.]
    2. To draw near to, approach to. [from 16th c.]
      • 1751, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, I.27:
        They in their turns made up to her, and expressed their surprize and concern at finding her in the assembly unprovided, after she had declined their invitation [] .
      • 1789, Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative, vol. I, ch. 8:
        On this they made up to me, and were about to handle me; but I told them to be still and keep off [] .
    3. (intransitive) To resolve or settle an argument or fight (with someone). [from 17th c.]
      They fight a lot, but they always manage to make up.
      • 1782, Frances Burney, Journals & Letters, Penguin 2001, p. 180:
        Miss Palmer and I made up, though she scolded most violently about my long absence, and attacked me about the Book without mercy.
      • 1971, “Let's Stay Together”, performed by Al Green:
        Why somebody, why people break up / Turn around and make up, I just can't see / You'd never do that to me, would you baby?
    4. (transitive) To resolve (an argument or dispute). [from 17th c.]
    5. To make social or romantic advances to; to pay court to. [from 18th c.]

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.