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  1. spuriously devised; fraudulent; fabricated: He was arrested on some trumped-up charge.

Origin of trumped-up

1720–30; special use of trump1; see -ed2


  1. Cards.
    1. any playing card of a suit that for the time outranks the other suits, such a card being able to take any card of another suit.
    2. Often trumps.(used with a singular verb)the suit itself.
  2. Informal. a fine person; brick.
verb (used with object)
  1. Cards. to take with a trump.
  2. to excel; surpass; outdo.
verb (used without object)
  1. Cards.
    1. to play a trump.
    2. to take a trick with a trump.
Verb Phrases
  1. trump up, to devise deceitfully or dishonestly, as an accusation; fabricate: Try as they might, they were unable to trump up a convincing case against him.

Origin of trump1

First recorded in 1520–30; unexplained variant of triumph
Related formstrump·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for trumped up


  1. Also called: trump card
    1. any card from the suit chosen as trumps
    2. this suit itself; trumps
  2. Also called: trump card a decisive or advantageous move, resource, action, etc
  3. informal a fine or reliable person
  1. to play a trump card on (a suit, or a particular card of a suit, that is not trumps)
  2. (tr) to outdo or surpass
See also trumps, trump up
Derived Formstrumpless, adjective

Word Origin

C16: variant of triumph


  1. a trumpet or the sound produced by one
  2. the last trump the final trumpet call that according to the belief of some will awaken and raise the dead on the Day of Judgment
  1. (intr) to produce a sound upon or as if upon the trumpet
  2. (tr) to proclaim or announce with or as if with a fanfare
  3. (intr) British slang to expel intestinal gas through the anus

Word Origin

C13: from Old French trompe, from Old High German trumpa trumpet; compare trombone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for trumped up



"playing card of a suit ranking above others," 1520s, alteration of triumph, name of a card game.



"fabricate, devise," 1690s, from trump "deceive, cheat" (1510s), from Middle English trumpen (late 14c.), from Old French tromper "deceive," of uncertain origin, perhaps from a verb meaning "to blow a trumpet." Related: Trumped; trumping. Trumped up "false, concocted" first recorded 1728.



"trumpet," c.1300, from Old French trompe "long, tube-like musical wind instrument" (12c.), cognate with Provençal tromba, Italian tromba, all probably from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German trumpa and Old Norse trumba "trumpet"), of imitative origin.



"surpass, beat," 1580s, from trump (n.). Related: Trumped; trumping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with trumped up

trumped up

In addition to the idioms beginning with trump

, also see


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.