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on the uptake

In understanding or comprehension. This term is most often put as quick on the uptake, for readily understanding something, and slow on the uptake, for being slow to comprehend. For example, Shirley will have no trouble learning that new computer program—she's very quick on the uptake. It alludes to absorbing (“taking up”) information. [Early 1800s]

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