make up

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



  • (file)
  • IPA(key): /ˌmeɪk ˈʌp/


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

  1. To constitute, to compose.
    1. (transitive) To constitute the components of a whole. [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[1], volume 100, number 5, New Haven, Conn.: Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, →DOI, →ISSN, →OCLC, 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.
  2. To compensate, to fill in, to catch up.
    1. (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[2], 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.
    2. (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 [], London: Secker & Warburg, →OCLC:
        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, 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[3], 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.
  3. To invent, to imagine, to concoct
    1. 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.
  4. To assemble, to prepare.
    1. To compile or draw up (a list, document, etc.). [from 14th c.]
    2. 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.
    3. (transitive, intransitive, reflexive) To prepare (someone) for a theatrical performance by means of costume, cosmetics, etc. [from 18th c.]
  5. To apply cosmetics.
    1. (transitive, intransitive, reflexive) 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.
  6. To make peace, to settle a dispute.
    1. (transitive, intransitive) To resolve or settle an argument, dispute, conflict, or fight (e.g., with someone). [from 17th c.]
      Synonym: make peace
      They fight a lot, but they always manage to make up.
      • 1782, Frances Burney, Journals & Letters, Penguin, published 2001, page 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?
  7. To arrange, to 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, chapter 27, in The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle [], volume I, London: Harrison and Co., [], published 1781, →OCLC:
        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, chapter 8, in The Interesting Narrative, volume I:
        On this they made up to me, and were about to handle me; but I told them to be still and keep off [] .
    3. To make social or romantic advances to; to pay court to. [from 18th c.]
  8. To build, to 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.]

Usage notes[edit]

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 terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.