or build-up

See more synonyms for buildup on
  1. a building up, as of military forces; increase in amount or number.
  2. a process of growth; strengthening; development: the buildup of heavy industry.
  3. an accumulation, as of a particular type of material: a buildup of salt deposits.
  4. an increase, as in potential, intensity, or pressure: A buildup of suspense began halfway through the movie.
  5. a progressive or sequential development: the buildup of helium atoms from hydrogen.
  6. praise or publicity designed to enhance a reputation or popularize someone or something: The studio spent $100,000 on the new star's buildup.
  7. a process of preparation designed to make possible the achievement of an ultimate objective: a lengthy buildup to a sales pitch.
  8. encouragement; a psychological lift: Every time I need a buildup, I look at her picture.

Origin of buildup

1925–30, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase build up


verb (used with object), built or (Archaic) build·ed; build·ing.
  1. to construct (especially something complex) by assembling and joining parts or materials: to build a house.
  2. to establish, increase, or strengthen (often followed by up): to build a business; to build up one's hopes.
  3. to mold, form, or create: to build boys into men.
  4. to base; found: a relationship built on trust.
  5. Games.
    1. to make (words) from letters.
    2. to assemble (cards) according to number, suit, etc., as in melding.
verb (used without object), built or (Archaic) build·ed; build·ing.
  1. to engage in the art, practice, or business of building.
  2. to form or construct a plan, system of thought, etc. (usually followed by on or upon): He built on the philosophies of the past.
  3. to increase or develop toward a maximum, as of intensity, tempo, or magnitude (often followed by up): The drama builds steadily toward a climax.
  1. the physical structure, especially of a person; physique; figure: He had a strong build.
  2. the manner or form of construction: The house was of modern build.
  3. Computers.
    1. a version of a program after compilation, typically an update to an existing version made before the program is released.
    2. the process of producing a software build.
    3. a new version or update of data in a database or on a website: frequent, incremental builds of data.
  4. Masonry.
    1. a vertical joint.
    2. the vertical dimension of a stone laid on its bed.
Verb Phrases
  1. build in/into, to build or incorporate as part of something else: to build in bookcases between the windows; an allowance for travel expenses built into the budget.
  2. build up,
    1. to develop or increase: to build up a bank account.
    2. to strengthen.
    3. to prepare in stages.
    4. to fill in with houses; develop into an urban area.
    5. to praise or flatter.

Origin of build

before 1150; Middle English bilden, Old English byldan, derivative of bold, variant of botl dwelling, house
Related formsbuild·a·ble, adjectivemis·build, verb, mis·built, mis·build·ing.out·build, verb (used with object), out·built, out·build·ing.pre·build, verb (used with object), pre·built, pre·build··per·build, verb, su·per·built, su·per·build·ing.un·build·a·ble, adjectiveun·der·build, verb, un·der·built, un·der·build·ing.
Can be confusedbilled build Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for build up

build up

verb (adverb)
  1. (tr) to construct gradually, systematically, and in stages
  2. to increase, accumulate, or strengthen, esp by degreesthe murmur built up to a roar
  3. (intr) to prepare for or gradually approach a climax
  4. (tr) to improve the health or physique of (a person)
  5. (tr, usually passive) to cover (an area) with buildings
  6. (tr) to cause (a person, enterprise, etc) to become better known; publicizethey built several actresses up into stars
noun build-up
  1. progressive increase in number, size, etcthe build-up of industry
  2. a gradual approach to a climax or critical point
  3. the training and practice that constitutes the preparation for a particular event or competitionthe team's Olympic build-up
  4. extravagant publicity or praise, esp in the form of a campaign
  5. military the process of attaining the required strength of forces and equipment, esp prior to an operation


verb builds, building or built
  1. to make, construct, or form by joining parts or materialsto build a house
  2. (intr) to be a builder by profession
  3. (tr) to order the building ofthe government builds most of our hospitals
  4. (foll by on or upon) to base; foundhis theory was not built on facts
  5. (tr) to establish and developit took ten years to build a business
  6. (tr) to make in a particular way or for a particular purposethe car was not built for speed
  7. (intr often foll by up) to increase in intensitythe wind was building
  8. cards
    1. to add cards to each other to form (a sequence or set)
    2. (intr)to add to the layout of cards on the table from one's hand
  1. physical form, figure, or proportionsa man with an athletic build

Word Origin for build

Old English byldan; related to bylda farmer, bold building, Old Norse bōl farm, dwelling; see bower 1
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 build up



late Old English byldan "construct a house," verb form of bold "house," from Proto-Germanic *buthlam (cf. Old Saxon bodl, Old Frisian bodel "building, house"), from PIE *bhu- "to dwell," from root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow" (see be). Rare in Old English; in Middle English it won out over more common Old English timbran (see timber). Modern spelling is unexplained. Figurative use from mid-15c. Of physical things other than buildings from late 16c. Related: Builded (archaic); built; building.

In the United States, this verb is used with much more latitude than in England. There, as Fennimore Cooper puts it, everything is BUILT. The priest BUILDS up a flock; the speculator a fortune; the lawyer a reputation; the landlord a town; and the tailor, as in England, BUILDS up a suit of clothes. A fire is BUILT instead of made, and the expression is even extended to individuals, to be BUILT being used with the meaning of formed. [Farmer, "Slang and Its Analogues," 1890]



"style of construction," 1660s, from build (v.). Earlier in this sense was built (1610s). Meaning "physical construction and fitness of a person" attested by 1981. Earliest sense, now obsolete, was "a building" (early 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with build up

build up


Fill an area with houses or other buildings, urbanize. For example, We want to protect the wetlands against those who want to build up the area. [c. 1400]


Gradually develop, increase in stages. For example, I want to build up my endurance for the race. [Early 1700s]


Accumulate or collect, as in A lot of rust has built up on the farm machinery. [Mid-1900s]


Increase, strengthen, develop toward, as in The sound built up until it was nearly deafening, or His argument was building up to a grand climax. [c. 1930]


Establish or enhance a reputation; praise or flatter. For example, Months before the official campaign could begin, they had been building up the senator's image. [c. 1930]


In addition to the idioms beginning with build

  • build down
  • build in
  • build on
  • build on sand
  • build up

also see:

  • light (build) a fire under

Also see underbuilt.

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