verb (used without object)

to become lively, cheerful, or vigorous, as after depression or sickness (usually followed by up): The patients all perked up when we played the piano for them.
to act, or carry oneself, in a jaunty manner.
to put oneself forward briskly or presumptuously.

verb (used with object)

to make smart, trim, or jaunty (sometimes followed by up or out): to perk up a suit with a new white blouse.
to raise smartly or briskly (often followed by up or out): to perk one's head up.


perky; jaunty: a perk manner.

Origin of perk

1350–1400; Middle English perken; perhaps akin to peer2
Related formsperk·ing·ly, adverbperk·ish, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for perk up

perk up

verb (adverb)

to make or become more cheerful, hopeful, or lively
to rise or cause to rise brisklythe dog's ears perked up
(tr) to make smarter in appearanceshe perked up her outfit with a bright scarf
(intr) Australian slang to vomit

Word Origin for perk up

C14 perk, perhaps from Norman French perquer; see perch 1




pert; brisk; lively


Word Origin for perk

C16: see perk up



verb informal

(intr) (of coffee) to percolate
(tr) to percolate (coffee)




British informal short for perquisite
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 perk up



late 14c., "to make oneself trim or smart," perhaps from Old North French perquer "to perch" (Modern French percher; see perch (n.1)), on notion of a bird preening its plumage. Sense of "raise oneself briskly" is first attested 1520s; perk up "recover liveliness" is from 1650s. Related: Perked; perking.



1869, shortened and altered form of perquisite (q.v.); as a verb, 1934 as shortened and altered form of percolate.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with perk up

perk up

Restore to good spirits, liveliness, or good appearance, as in You're exhausted, but a cup of tea will perk you up, or The flowers perked up the whole room. [Mid-1600s]

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