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[pik-uhp] /ˈpɪkˌʌp/
an improvement, as in health, business conditions, work, production, etc.
Informal. pick-me-up.
Informal. a casual, usually unintroduced acquaintance, often one made in hope of a sexual relationship.
an instance of stopping for or taking aboard passengers or freight, as by a train, ship, taxicab, etc., especially an instance of taking freight or a shipment of goods onto a truck.
the person, freight, or shipment so taken aboard:
The cab driver had a pickup at the airport who wanted to be driven to the docks.
  1. capacity for rapid acceleration.
  2. acceleration; increase in speed.
  3. Also called pickup truck. a small truck with a low-sided open body, used for deliveries and light hauling.
Baseball. the act of fielding a ball after it hits the ground.
Also called cartridge. a small device attached to the end of a phonograph tone arm that contains a stylus and the mechanism that translates the movement of the stylus in a record groove into a changing electrical voltage.
  1. the act of receiving sound waves in the transmitting set in order to change them into electrical waves.
  2. a receiving or recording device.
  3. the place from which a broadcast is being transmitted.
  4. interference (def 4).
  1. the change of light energy into electrical energy in a television camera.
  2. camera tube.
  3. a telecast made directly from the scene of an action.
a hitchhiker.
Metalworking. (in the cold-drawing of metal) the adhesion of particles of the metal to the die or plug.
composed of or employing whatever persons are available on a more or less impromptu basis:
a pickup game of baseball; a pickup dance band.
using whatever ingredients are handy or available:
a Sunday night pickup supper.
Origin of pickup
First recorded in 1855-60; noun use of verb phrase pick up Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Word Origin and History for pickup

also pick-up, "that which is picked up," 1848; see pick up (v.). As "act of picking up" from 1882. Meaning "capacity for acceleration" is from 1909; that of "recovery" is from 1916. In reference to a game between informal teams chosen on the spot, from 1905 (as an adjective in this sense by 1936).

Meaning "small truck used for light loads," 1937, is shortened from pickup truck (pickup body is attested from 1928). The notion probably being of a vehicle for use to "pick up" (feed, lumber, etc.) and deliver it where it was needed.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for pickup



  1. Impromptu; unceremonious: We'll have a pickup lunch in the kitchen (1859+)
  2. For one occasion; temporary; ad hoc: a pickup band/ a pickup corps of waiters (1936+)


  1. A person accosted and made a companion, esp in a bar, on the street, etc, for sexual purposes: His next girlfriend was a pickup he made at Rod's (1926+)
  2. An arrest (1908+)
  3. (also pickup truck) A small truck having a cab and cargo space with low sidewalls (1932+)
  4. The ability of a car to accelerate rapidly, esp from a halt (1909+)
  5. The act of getting or acquiring something: He made the pickup at the post office (1938+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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