noun, plural make-dos.

something that serves as a substitute, especially of an inferior or expedient nature: We had to get along with make-dos during the war.


used as a substitute; makeshift: make-do curtains.

Nearby words

  1. make whoopee,
  2. make with,
  3. make-ahead,
  4. make-and-break,
  5. make-believe,
  6. make-or-break,
  7. make-peace,
  8. make-ready,
  9. make-up,
  10. make-work

Origin of make-do

First recorded in 1890–95



verb (used with object), made, mak·ing.

to bring into existence by shaping or changing material, combining parts, etc.: to make a dress; to make a channel; to make a work of art.
to produce; cause to exist or happen; bring about: to make trouble; to make war.
to cause to be or become; render: to make someone happy.
to appoint or name: The president made her his special envoy.
to put in the proper condition or state, as for use; fix; prepare: to make a bed; to make dinner.
to bring into a certain form: to make bricks out of clay.
to convert from one state, condition, category, etc., to another: to make a virtue of one's vices.
to cause, induce, or compel: to make a horse jump a barrier.
to give rise to; occasion: It's not worth making a fuss over such a trifle.
to produce, earn, or win for oneself: to make a good salary; to make one's fortune in oil.
to write or compose: to make a short poem for the occasion.
to draw up, as a legal document; draft: to make a will.
to do; effect: to make a bargain.
to establish or enact; put into existence: to make laws.
to become by development; prove to be: You'll make a good lawyer.
to form in the mind, as a judgment or estimate: to make a decision.
to judge or interpret, as to the truth, nature, meaning, etc. (often followed by of): What do you make of it?
to estimate; reckon: to make the distance at ten miles.
to bring together separate parts so as to produce a whole; compose; form: to make a matched set.
to amount to; bring up the total to: Two plus two makes four. That makes an even dozen.
to serve as: to make good reading.
to be sufficient to constitute: One story does not make a writer.
to be adequate or suitable for: This wool will make a warm sweater.
to assure the success or fortune of: a deal that could make or break him; Seeing her made my day.
to deliver, utter, or put forth: to make a stirring speech.
to go or travel at a particular speed: to make 60 miles an hour.
to arrive at or reach; attain: The ship made port on Friday. Do you think he'll make 80?
to arrive in time for: to make the first show.
to arrive in time to be a passenger on (a plane, boat, bus, train, etc.): If you hurry, you can make the next flight.
Informal. to gain or acquire a position within: He made the big time.
to receive mention or appear in or on: The robbery made the front page.
to gain recognition or honor by winning a place or being chosen for inclusion in or on: The novel made the bestseller list. He made the all-American team three years in a row.
Slang. to have sexual intercourse with.
  1. to name (the trump).
  2. to take a trick with (a card).
  3. fulfill or achieve (a contract or bid).
  4. to shuffle (the cards).
to earn, as a score: The team made 40 points in the first half.
Slang. (especially in police and underworld use)
  1. to recognize or identify: Any cop in town will make you as soon as you walk down the street.
  2. to charge or cause to be charged with a crime: The police expect to make a couple of suspects soon.
to close (an electric circuit).
South Midland and Southern U.S. to plant and cultivate or produce (a crop): He makes some of the best corn in the country.

verb (used without object), made, mak·ing.

to cause oneself, or something understood, to be as specified: to make sure.
to show oneself to be or seem in action or behavior (usually followed by an adjective): to make merry.
to be made, as specified: This fabric makes up into beautiful drapes.
to move or proceed in a particular direction: They made after the thief.
to rise, as the tide or water in a ship.
South Midland and Southern U.S. (of a crop) to grow, develop, or mature: It looks like the corn's going to make pretty good this year.
make down, Chiefly Pennsylvania German. to rain or snow: It's making down hard.
make fast, Chiefly Nautical. to fasten or secure.
make shut, Chiefly Pennsylvania German. to close: Make the door shut.


the style or manner in which something is made; form; build.
production with reference to the manufacturer; brand: our own make.
disposition; character; nature.
the act or process of making.
quantity made; output.
Cards. the act of naming the trump, or the suit named as trump.
Electricity. the closing of an electric circuit.
Jewelry. the excellence of a polished diamond with regard to proportion, symmetry, and finish.
Slang. identifying information about a person or thing from police records: He radioed headquarters for a make on the car's license plate.

Verb Phrases

make out,
  1. to write out or complete, as a bill or check.
  2. to establish; prove.
  3. to decipher; discern.
  4. to imply, suggest, or impute: He made me out to be a liar.
  5. to manage; succeed: How are you making out in your new job?
  6. engage in kissing and caressing; neck.
  7. have sexual intercourse.
  8. Chiefly Pennsylvania turn off or extinguish (especially a light or fire): Make the light out.
make over,
  1. to remodel; alter: to make over a dress; to make over a page layout.
  2. to transfer the title of (property); convey: After she retired she made over her property to her children and moved to Florida.
make for,
  1. to go toward; approach: to make for home.
  2. to lunge at; attack.
  3. to help to promote or maintain: This incident will not make for better understanding between the warring factions.
make off,
  1. to run away; depart hastily: The only witness to the accident made off before the police arrived.
  2. stand off from a coast, especially a lee shore.
make off with, to carry away; steal: While the family was away, thieves made off with most of their valuables.
make on, Chiefly Pennsylvania German. to turn on, light, or ignite (especially a light or fire): Make the light on.
make up,
  1. (of parts) to constitute; compose; form.
  2. to put together; construct; compile.
  3. to concoct; invent.
  4. Also make up compensate for; make good.
  5. to complete.
  6. to put in order; arrange: The maid will make up the room.
  7. to conclude; decide.
  8. to settle amicably, as differences.
  9. to become reconciled, as after a quarrel.
  10. arrange set type, illustrations, etc., into columns or pages.
  11. to dress in appropriate costume and apply cosmetics for a part on the stage.
  12. to apply cosmetics.
  13. to adjust or balance, as accounts; prepare, as statements.
  14. repeat (a course or examination that one has failed).
  15. take an examination that one had been unable to take when first given, usually because of absence.
  16. to specify and indicate the layout or arrangement of (columns, pages, etc., of matter to be printed).
  17. Atlantic States.(of the weather or clouds) to develop or gather: It's making up for a storm.
  18. Atlantic States.(of the sea) to become turbulent: If the sea makes up, row toward land.
make up to,
  1. try to become friendly with; fawn on.
  2. to make advances to; flirt with: He makes up to every new woman in the office.

Origin of make

before 900; Middle English maken, Old English macian; cognate with Low German, Dutch maken, German machen

Related formsmak·a·ble, adjective

Synonym study

1. Make, construct, manufacture mean to produce, to put into definite form, or to put parts together to make a whole. Make is the general term: Bees make wax. Construct, more formal, means to put parts together, usually according to a plan or design: to construct a building. Manufacture usually refers to producing something from material that requires conversion from one state or condition to another, now almost entirely by means of machinery in a relatively complex process: to manufacture automobiles by the assembly of different parts. The term is also often used contemptuously of unimaginative or hackneyed works of art with the implication that the work was produced mechanically, and is used abstractly with the idea of denying genuineness: to manufacture an excuse.


[doo; unstressed doo, duh]

verb (used with object), present singular 1st person do, 2nd do or (Archaic) do·est or dost, 3rd does or (Archaic) do·eth or doth, present plural do; past singular 1st person did, 2nd did or (Archaic) didst, 3rd did, past plural did; past participle done; present participle do·ing.

to perform (an act, duty, role, etc.): Do nothing until you hear the bell.
to execute (a piece or amount of work): to do a hauling job.
to accomplish; finish; complete: He has already done his homework.
to put forth; exert: Do your best.
to be the cause of (good, harm, credit, etc.); bring about; effect.
to render, give, or pay (homage, justice, etc.).
to deal with, fix, clean, arrange, move, etc., (anything) as the case may require: to do the dishes.
to travel; traverse: We did 30 miles today.
to serve; suffice for: This will do us for the present.
to condone or approve, as by custom or practice: That sort of thing simply isn't done.
to travel at the rate of (a specified speed): He was doing 80 when they arrested him.
to make or prepare: I'll do the salad.
to serve (a term of time) in prison, or, sometimes, in office.
to create, form, or bring into being: She does wonderful oil portraits.
to translate into or change the form or language of: MGM did the book into a movie.
to study or work at or in the field of: I have to do my math tonight.
to explore or travel through as a sightseer: They did Greece in three weeks.
(used with a pronoun, as it or that, or with a general noun, as thing, that refers to a previously mentioned action): You were supposed to write thank-you letters; do it before tomorrow, please.
Informal. to wear out; exhaust; tire: That last set of tennis did me.
Informal. to cheat, trick, or take advantage of: That crooked dealer did him for $500 at poker.
Informal. to attend or participate in: Let's do lunch next week.
Slang. to use (a drug or drugs), especially habitually: The police report said he was doing cocaine.
Slang. to rob; steal from: The law got him for doing a lot of banks.
Slang: Vulgar. to have sex with.
Informal. (usually in the negative) to act in accordance with expectations associated with (something specified): Just ignore her insults—she doesn’t do polite.

verb (used without object), present singular 1st person do, 2nd do or (Archaic) do·est or dost, 3rd does or (Archaic) do·eth or doth, present plural do; past singular 1st person did, 2nd did or (Archaic) didst, 3rd did, past plural did; past participle done; present participle do·ing.

to act or conduct oneself; be in action; behave.
to proceed: to do wisely.
to get along; fare; manage: to do without an automobile.
to be in health, as specified: Mother and child are doing fine.
to serve or be satisfactory, as for the purpose; be enough; suffice: Will this do?
to finish or be finished.
to happen; take place; transpire: What's doing at the office?
(used as a substitute to avoid repetition of a verb or full verb expression): I think as you do.

auxiliary verb, present singular 1st person do, 2nd do or (Archaic) do·est or dost, 3rd does or (Archaic) do·eth or doth, present plural do; past singular 1st person did, 2nd did or (Archaic) didst, 3rd did, past plural did; past participle done; present participle do·ing.

(used in interrogative, negative, and inverted constructions): Do you like music? I don't care. Seldom do we witness such catastrophes.
Archaic. (used in imperatives with you or thou expressed; and occasionally as a metric filler in verse): Do thou hasten to the king's side. The wind did blow, the rain did fall.
(used to lend emphasis to a principal verb): Do visit us!

noun, plural dos, do's.

Informal. a burst of frenzied activity; action; commotion.
Informal. a hairdo or hair styling.
British Slang. a swindle; hoax.
Chiefly British. a festive social gathering; party.

Verb Phrases

do by, to deal with; treat: He had always done well by his family.
do for,
  1. to cause the defeat, ruin, or death of.
  2. Chiefly cook and keep house for; manage or provide for.
do in, Informal.
  1. to kill, especially to murder.
  2. to injure gravely or exhaust; wear out; ruin: The tropical climate did them in.
  3. to cheat or swindle: He was done in by an unscrupulous broker.
do over, to redecorate.
do up, Informal.
  1. to wrap and tie up.
  2. to pin up or arrange (the hair).
  3. to renovate; launder; clean.
  4. to wear out; tire.
  5. to fasten: Do up your coat.
  6. to dress: The children were all done up in funny costumes.
do with, to gain advantage or benefit from; make use of: I could do with more leisure time.
do without,
  1. to forgo; dispense with.
  2. to dispense with the thing mentioned: The store doesn't have any, so you'll have to do without.

Origin of do

before 900; Middle English, Old English dōn; cognate with Dutch doen, German tun; akin to Latin -dere to put, facere to make, do, Greek tithénai to set, put, Sanskrit dadhāti (he) puts

Can be confuseddew do dew

Synonym study

3. Do, accomplish, achieve mean to bring some action to a conclusion. Do is the general word: He did a great deal of hard work. Accomplish and achieve both connote successful completion of an undertaking. Accomplish emphasizes attaining a desired goal through effort, skill, and perseverance: to accomplish what one has hoped for. Achieve emphasizes accomplishing something important, excellent, or great: to achieve a major breakthrough. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for make do


abbreviation for

Doctor of Optometry
Doctor of Osteopathy



verb does, doing, did or done

to perform or complete (a deed or action)to do a portrait; the work is done
(often intr; foll by for) to serve the needs of; be suitable for (a person, situation, etc); sufficethere isn't much food, but it'll do for the two of us
(tr) to arrange or fixyou should do the garden now
(tr) to prepare or provide; servethis restaurant doesn't do lunch on Sundays
(tr) to make tidy, elegant, ready, etc, as by arranging or adorningto do one's hair
(tr) to improve (esp in the phrase do something to or for)
(tr) to find an answer to (a problem or puzzle)
(tr) to translate or adapt the form or language ofthe book was done into a play
(intr) to conduct oneselfdo as you please
(intr) to fare or managehow are you doing these days?
(tr) to cause or producecomplaints do nothing to help
(tr) to give or renderyour portrait doesn't do you justice; do me a favour
(tr) to work at, esp as a course of study or a professionhe is doing chemistry; what do you do for a living?
(tr) to perform (a play, etc); actthey are doing ``Hamlet'' next week
(tr) to travel at a specified speed, esp as a maximumthis car will do 120 mph
(tr) to travel or traverse (a distance)we did 15 miles on our walk
(takes an infinitive without to) used as an auxiliary before the subject of an interrogative sentence as a way of forming a questiondo you agree?; when did John go out?
(takes an infinitive without to) used as an auxiliary to intensify positive statements and commandsI do like your new house; do hurry!
(takes an infinitive without to) used as an auxiliary before a negative adverb to form negative statements or commandshe does not like cheese; do not leave me here alone!
(takes an infinitive without to) used as an auxiliary in inverted constructionslittle did he realize that; only rarely does he come in before ten o'clock
used as an auxiliary to replace an earlier verb or verb phrase to avoid repetitionhe likes you as much as I do
(tr) informal to visit or explore as a sightseer or touristto do Westminster Abbey
(tr) to wear out; exhaust
(intr) to happen (esp in the phrase nothing doing)
(tr) slang to serve (a period of time) as a prison sentencehe's doing three years for burglary; he's doing time
(tr) informal to cheat or swindle
(tr) slang to robthey did three shops last night
(tr) slang
  1. to arrest
  2. to convict of a crime
(tr) Australian informal to lose or spend (money) completely
(tr) slang, mainly British to treat violently; assault
(tr) slang to take or use (a drug)
(tr) taboo, slang (of a male) to have sexual intercourse with
(tr) to partake in (a meal)let's do lunch
do or do a informal to act like; imitatehe's a good mimic – he can do all his friends well
do or die to make a final or supreme effort
how do you do? a conventional formula when being introduced
make do to manage with whatever is available

noun plural dos or do's

slang an act or instance of cheating or swindling
informal, mainly British and NZ a formal or festive gathering; party
do's and don'ts informal those things that should or should not be done; rules

Word Origin for do

Old English dōn; related to Old Frisian duān, Old High German tuon, Latin abdere to put away, Greek tithenai to place; see deed, doom



noun plural dos

a variant spelling of doh 1



the internet domain name for

Dominican Republic



verb makes, making or made (mainly tr)

to bring into being by shaping, changing, or combining materials, ideas, etc; form or fashion; createto make a chair from bits of wood; make a poem
to draw up, establish, or formto make a decision; make one's will
to cause to exist, bring about, or producedon't make a noise
to cause, compel, or induceplease make him go away
to appoint or assign, as to a rank or positionthey made him chairman
to constituteone swallow doesn't make a summer
(also intr) to come or cause to come into a specified state or conditionto make merry; make someone happy
(copula) to be or become through developmenthe will make a good teacher
to cause or ensure the success ofyour news has made my day
to amount totwelve inches make a foot
to be part of or a member ofdid she make one of the party?
to serve as or be suitable forthat piece of cloth will make a coat
to prepare or put into a fit condition for useto make a bed
to be the essential element in or part ofcharm makes a good salesman
to carry out, effect, or doto make a gesture
(intr; foll by to, as if to, or as though to) to act with the intention or with a show of doing somethingthey made to go out; he made as if to hit her
to use for a specified purposeI will make this town my base
to deliver or pronounceto make a speech
to judge, reckon, or give one's own opinion or information as towhat time do you make it?
to cause to seem or represent as beingthat furniture makes the room look dark
to earn, acquire, or win for oneselfto make friends; make a fortune
to engage inmake love not war
to traverse or cover (distance) by travellingwe can make a hundred miles by nightfall
to arrive in time forhe didn't make the first act of the play
  1. to win a trick with (a specified card)
  2. to shuffle (the cards)
  3. bridgeto fulfil (a contract) by winning the necessary number of tricks
cricket to score (runs)
electronics to close (a circuit) permitting a flow of currentCompare break (def. 44)
(intr) to increase in depththe water in the hold was making a foot a minute
(intr) (of hay) to dry and mature
informal to gain a place or position on or into make the headlines; make the first team
informal to achieve the rank of
slang to seduce
make a book to take bets on a race or other contest
make a day of it to cause an activity to last a day
make a night of it to cause an activity to last a night
make do See do 1 (def. 37)
make eyes at to flirt with or ogle
make good See good (def. 44)
make heavy weather nautical to roll and pitch in heavy seas
make heavy weather of something informal to carry something out with great difficulty or unnecessarily great effort
make it
  1. informalto be successful in doing something
  2. (foll by with) slangto have sexual intercourse
  3. slangto inject a narcotic drug
make like slang, mainly US and Canadian to imitate
make love
  1. to have sexual intercourse
  2. archaicto engage in courtship
make love to someone
  1. to have sexual intercourse with someone
  2. archaicto engage in courtship with someone
make or break to bring success or ruin
make time See time (def. 45)
make water
  1. another term for urinate
  2. (of a boat, hull, etc) to let in water


brand, type, or stylewhat make of car is that?
the manner or way in which something is made
disposition or character; make-up
the act or process of making
the amount or number made
bridge the contract to be played
cards a player's turn to shuffle
on the make
  1. informalout for profit or conquest
  2. slangin search of a sexual partner

Derived Formsmakable, adjective

Word Origin for make

Old English macian; related to Old Frisian makia to construct, Dutch maken, German machen to make



noun archaic

a peer or consort
a mate or spouse
Derived Formsmakeless, adjective

Word Origin for make

Old English gemaca mate; related to match 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 make do
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with make do

make do

Get along with the means available, especially insufficient means. For example, We'll just have to make do with one potato apiece. [c. 1900]


In addition to the idioms beginning with make

  • make a beeline for
  • make a break for
  • make a bundle
  • make a clean breast of
  • make a clean sweep
  • make a comeback
  • make a crack
  • make a date
  • make a day of it
  • make a dent in
  • make a difference
  • make advances
  • make a face
  • make a federal case of
  • make a fool of
  • make a fortune
  • make a fuss
  • make a go of
  • make a hash of
  • make a hit
  • make a hole in
  • make a killing
  • make a laughingstock of
  • make a living
  • make allowance for
  • make a long story short
  • make amends
  • make a monkey out of
  • make a mountain out of a molehill
  • make a name for oneself
  • make an appearance
  • make an appointment
  • make an ass of
  • make an end of
  • make an example of
  • make an exception
  • make an exhibition of oneself
  • make a night of it
  • make an impression
  • make a note of
  • make a nuisance of oneself
  • make a pass at
  • make a pig of oneself
  • make a pile
  • make a pitch for
  • make a play for
  • make a point of
  • make a practice of
  • make arrangements for
  • make a run for
  • make a scene
  • make as if
  • make a silk purse
  • make a stab at
  • make a stand
  • make a statement
  • make a stink
  • make a virtue of necessity
  • make away with
  • make bail
  • make believe
  • make bold
  • make book
  • make bricks without straw
  • make capital out of
  • make conversation
  • make demands on
  • make do
  • make ends meet
  • make eyes at
  • make fast work of
  • make for
  • make free with
  • make friends
  • make fun of
  • make good
  • make good time
  • make great strides
  • make haste
  • make hay while the sun shines
  • make head or tail of
  • make headway
  • make heavy weather
  • make history
  • make inroads into
  • make it
  • make it hot for
  • make it one's business
  • make it snappy
  • make it up
  • make it with
  • make light of
  • make like
  • make little of
  • make love
  • make mincemeat of
  • make mischief
  • make much of
  • make my day
  • make no bones about
  • make no difference
  • make no mistake
  • make nothing of
  • make off
  • make one's bed and lie in it
  • make one's blood boil
  • make one's blood run cold
  • make one's day
  • make one's ears burn
  • make oneself at home
  • make oneself scarce
  • make one's flesh creep
  • make one's hair stand on end
  • make one's head spin
  • make one sick
  • make one's mark
  • make one's mouth water
  • make one's peace with
  • make one's point
  • make one's way
  • make or break
  • make out
  • make out like a bandit
  • make over
  • make peace
  • make ready
  • make rounds
  • make sail
  • make sense
  • make short work of
  • make someone look good
  • make something of
  • make sport of
  • make stick
  • make sure
  • make the bed
  • make the best of it
  • make the dust fly
  • make the grade
  • make the most of
  • make the rounds
  • make the scene
  • make the sparks fly
  • make time
  • make tracks
  • make up
  • make up for lost time
  • make up one's mind
  • make up to
  • make use of
  • make waves
  • make way
  • make whoopee
  • make with

also see:

  • absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
  • can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
  • can't make head or tail of
  • kiss and make up
  • many hands make light work
  • might makes right
  • on the make
  • practice makes perfect
  • put in (make) an appearance
  • put the make on
  • run for it, make a
  • that makes two of us
  • two wrongs do not make a right
  • what makes one tick

Also see undermade.

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