perk up

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

perk up (third-person singular simple present perks up, present participle perking up, simple past and past participle perked up)

  1. (intransitive) To become more upright; to become more lively or enthusiastic.
    • 1694, Thomas D’Urfey, The Comical History of Don Quixote, London: Samuel Briscoe, Prologue,[1]
      In hopes the coming Scenes your Mirth will raise
      To you, the Iust pretenders to the Bays;
      The Poet humbly thus a Reverence pays
      And you, the Contraries, that hate the Pains
      Of Labour’d Sense, or of Improving Brains:
      That feel the Lashes in a well-writ Play,
      He bids perk up and smile, the Satyr sleeps to Day.
    • 1956, C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle, New York: Macmillan, Chapter 16,[2]
      The Lion bowed down his head and whispered something to Puzzle [the donkey] at which his long ears went down; but then he said something else at which the ears perked up again.
    His ears perked up when he heard there would be ice cream.
  2. (transitive) To cause to be more upright, straighten up; to cause to be more lively or enthusiastic.
    • c. 1612, William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, Henry VIII, Act II, Scene 3,[3]
      [] ’tis better to be lowly born,
      And range with humble livers in content,
      Than to be perk’d up in a glistering grief,
      And wear a golden sorrow.
    • 1651, Edward Sherburne[4] (translator), “Salmacis” by Girolamo Preti, in Poems and Translations Amorous, Lusory, Morall, Divine, London: Thomas Dring, p. 12,[5]
      When this fair Traveller, with heat opprest,
      And the days Toyls, here laid him down to rest
      Where the soft Grass, and the thick Trees, displaid
      A flowry Couch, and a cool Arbour made
      About him round the grassy spires (in hope
      To gain a kisse) their verdant heads perk’d up.
    • 1748, Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, London, for the author, Volume 5, Letter 6, p. 80,[6]
      Here the women perked up their ears; and were all silent attention.
    • 1870, Louisa May Alcott, An Old-Fashioned Girl, Boston: Roberts Brothers, Chapter 15, p. 309,[7]
      In lifting her arms to perk up the bow at her throat, she knocked a hat off the bracket.
    • 1963, Zane Grey, Boulder Dam, Roslyn, New York: Walter J. Black, Chapter 12,[8]
      “I’ve been on the water wagon myself. But a drink might perk me up.”
  3. (intransitive, obsolete) To exalt oneself, take on a higher status or position.
    • 1683, John Bunyan, A Case of Conscience Resolved, London: Benjamin Alsop, p. 36,[9]
      [] they should not give heed to Women, that would be perking up in matters of Worshiping God.
    • 1693, Edmund Bohun, The Justice of Peace, His Calling and Qualifications, London: T. Salusbury, Preface,[10]
      [] there is too frequently Combinations made amongst the rest, to cross and quash whatever they shall propose, be it never so just, and reasonable, and nothing alledged for it, but that they are mean, proud, busie people, and will perk up too much above their Betters, if they be not thus mortified, and kept under []

See also[edit]