or look-up

[loo k-uhp]


an act or instance of looking something up, as information in a reference book or an online database.

Nearby words

  1. looking-glass self,
  2. lookism,
  3. lookout,
  4. lookout mountain,
  5. lookout, cape,
  6. looky,
  7. loom,
  8. loom large,
  9. loom-state,
  10. looming

Origin of lookup

1945–50 for an earlier sense; noun use of verb phrase look up


[loo k]

verb (used without object)

to turn one's eyes toward something or in some direction in order to see: He looked toward the western horizon and saw the returning planes.
to glance or gaze in a manner specified: to look questioningly at a person.
to use one's sight or vision in seeking, searching, examining, watching, etc.: to look through the papers.
to tend, as in bearing or significance: Conditions look toward war.
to appear or seem to the eye as specified: to look pale.
to appear or seem to the mind: The case looks promising.
to direct attention or consideration: to look at the facts.
to have an outlook or afford a view: The window looks upon the street.
to face or front: The house looks to the east.

verb (used with object)

to give (someone) a look: He looked me straight in the eye.
to have an appearance appropriate to or befitting (something): She looked her age.
to appear to be; look like: He looked a perfect fool, coming to the party a day late.
to express or suggest by looks: to look one's annoyance at a person.
Archaic. to bring, put, etc., by looks.


the act of looking: a look of inquiry.
a visual search or examination.
the way in which a person or thing appears to the eye or to the mind; aspect: He has the look of an honest man. The tablecloth has a cheap look.
an expressive glance: to give someone a sharp look.
  1. general aspect; appearance: to like the looks of a place.
  2. attractive, pleasing appearance.

Verb Phrases

look after,
  1. to follow with the eye, as someone or something moving away: She looked after him as he walked toward the train station.
  2. to pay attention to; concern oneself with: to look after one's own interests.
  3. to take care of; minister to: to look after a child.
look back, to review past events; return in thought: When I look back on our school days, it seems as if they were a century ago.
look down on/upon, to regard with scorn or disdain; have contempt for: They look down on all foreigners.
look for,
  1. to seek; search for: Columbus was looking for a shorter route to India when he discovered America.
  2. to anticipate; expect: I'll be looking for you at the reception.
look in,
  1. Also look into.to look briefly inside of: Look in the jar and tell me if any cookies are left.
  2. Also look in on.to visit (a person, place, etc.) briefly: I'll look in some day next week.
look into, to inquire into; investigate; examine: The auditors are looking into the records to find the cause of the discrepancy.
look on/upon,
  1. to be a spectator; watch: The crowd looked on at the street brawl.
  2. to consider; regard: They look upon gambling as sinful.
look out,
  1. to look to the outside, as from a window or a place of observation: From her office window, she could look out over the bustling city.
  2. to be vigilant or on guard: Look out, there are dangers ahead.
  3. to afford a view; face: The room looks out on the garden.
look out for, to take watchful care of; be concerned about: He has to look out for his health.
look over, to examine, especially briefly: Will you please look over my report before I submit it?
look to,
  1. to direct one's glance or gaze to: If you look to your left, you can see the Empire State Building.
  2. to pay attention to: Look to your own affairs and stay out of mine.
  3. to direct one's expectations or hopes to: We look to the day when world peace will be a reality.
  4. to regard with expectation and anticipation: We look to the future and greater advances in science and technology.
look up,
  1. to direct the eyes upward; raise one's glance: The other guests looked up as she entered the room.
  2. to become better or more prosperous; improve: Business is looking up.
  3. to search for, as an item of information, in a reference book or the like: Look up the answer in the encyclopedia.
  4. to seek out, especially to visit: to look up an old friend.
  5. Nautical.(of a sailing ship) to head more nearly in the direction of its destination after a favoring change of wind.
look up to, to regard with admiration or respect; esteem: A boy needs a father he can look up to.

Origin of look

before 900; (v.) Middle English lōk(i)en, Old English lōcian; cognate with Middle Dutch lœken, akin to dialectal German lugen to look out; (noun) Middle English loke act of looking, glance, countenance, derivative of the v.

1. See watch. 6. See seem. 16. gaze, glance. 17. appearance, air.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for look up

look up

verb (adverb)

(tr) to discover (something required to be known) by resorting to a work of reference, such as a dictionary
(intr) to increase, as in quality or valuethings are looking up
(intr foll by to) to have respect (for)I've always wanted a girlfriend I could look up to
(tr) to visit or make contact with (a person)I'll look you up when I'm in town


verb (mainly intr)

(often foll by at) to direct the eyes (towards)to look at the sea
(often foll by at) to direct one's attention (towards)let's look at the circumstances
(often foll by to) to turn one's interests or expectations (towards)to look to the future
(copula) to give the impression of being by appearance to the eye or mind; seemthat looks interesting
to face in a particular directionthe house looks north
to expect, hope, or plan (to do something)I look to hear from you soon; he's looking to get rich
(foll by for)
  1. to search or seekI looked for you everywhere
  2. to cherish the expectation (of); hope (for)I look for success
(foll by to)
  1. to be mindful (of)to look to the promise one has made
  2. to have recourse (to)look to your swords, men!
to be a pointer or signthese early inventions looked towards the development of industry
(foll by into) to carry out an investigationto look into a mystery
(tr) to direct a look at (someone) in a specified wayshe looked her rival up and down
(tr) to accord in appearance with (something)to look one's age
look alive or look lively hurry up; get busy
look daggers See dagger (def. 4)
look here an expression used to attract someone's attention, add emphasis to a statement, etc
look sharp or look smart (imperative) to hurry up; make haste
not look at to refuse to considerthey won't even look at my offer of £5000
not much to look at unattractive; plain


the act or an instance of lookinga look of despair
a view or sight (of something)let's have a look
(often plural) appearance to the eye or mind; aspectthe look of innocence; I don't like the looks of this place
style; fashionthe new look for summer

sentence connector

an expression demanding attention or showing annoyance, determination, etclook, I've had enough of this

Word Origin for look

Old English lōcian; related to Middle Dutch læken, Old High German luogen to look out


See at like 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 look up
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with look up

look up


Search for in a book or other source, as in I told her to look up the word in the dictionary. [Late 1600s]


Call on or visit, as in I'm going to look up my friend in Chicago. [Mid-1800s]


Become better, improve, as in Business is finally looking up. [c. 1800]


look up to. Admire, respect, as in The students really looked up to Mr. Jones. [Early 1700s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with look

  • look after
  • look a gift horse in the mouth
  • look alive
  • look as if butter wouldn't melt
  • look askance
  • look back
  • look before you leap
  • look black
  • look blank
  • look daggers
  • look down on
  • look for
  • look forward to
  • look in on
  • look into
  • look like
  • look like a million dollars
  • look like death
  • look like something the cat dragged in
  • look like the cat that ate the canary
  • look on
  • look on the bright side
  • look out
  • look out for
  • look over
  • look sharp
  • look sideways at
  • look someone in the face
  • look the other way
  • look through rose-colored glasses
  • look to
  • look to one's laurels
  • look up
  • look up and down
  • look up to
  • look who's talking

also see:

  • (look on the) bright side
  • dirty look
  • make someone look good
  • take a look at
  • things are looking up
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.