[noun poo t-on, -awn; adjective poo t-on, -awn]

noun Informal.

an act or instance of putting someone on.
a prank or pretense, especially one perpetrated or assumed in mock seriousness; hoax; spoof.
affected manner or behavior; pretentiousness.


assumed, feigned, pretended, or disguised: a put-on manner that didn't fool anyone.

Origin of put-on

1855–60; adj., noun use of verb phrase put (someone) on



verb (used with object), put, put·ting.

to move or place (anything) so as to get it into or out of a specific location or position: to put a book on the shelf.
to bring into some relation, state, etc.: to put everything in order.
to place in the charge or power of a person, institution, etc.: to put a child in a special school.
to subject to the endurance or suffering of something: to put convicted spies to death.
to set to a duty, task, action, etc.: I put him to work setting the table.
to force or drive to some course or action: to put an army to flight.
to render or translate, as into another language: He put the novel into French.
to provide (words) with music as accompaniment; set: to put a poem to music.
to assign or attribute: You put a political interpretation on everything.
to set at a particular place, point, amount, etc., in a scale of estimation: I'd put the distance at five miles.
to bet or wager: to put two dollars on a horse.
to express or state: To put it mildly, I don't understand.
to apply, as to a use or purpose: to put one's knowledge to practical use.
to set, give, or make: to put an end to an ancient custom.
to propose or submit for answer, consideration, deliberation, etc.: to put a question before a committee.
to impose, as a burden, charge, or the like: to put a tax on luxury articles.
to invest (often followed by in or into): to put one's money in real estate; to put one's savings into securities.
to lay the blame of (usually followed by on, to, etc.): He put my failure to lack of experience.
to throw or cast, especially with a forward motion of the hand when raised close to the shoulder: to put the shot.

verb (used without object), put, put·ting.

to go, move, or proceed: to put to sea.
Informal. to begin to travel: to put for home.
to shoot out or grow, or send forth shoots or sprouts.


a throw or cast, especially one made with a forward motion of the hand when raised close to the shoulder.
Also called put option. Finance. an option that gives the right to sell a fixed amount of a particular stock at a predetermined price within a given time, purchased by a person who expects the stock to decline.Compare call(def 52).

Verb Phrases

put about,
  1. Nautical.to change direction, as on a course.
  2. to start (a rumor); circulate.
  3. to inconvenience; trouble.
  4. to disturb; worry.
  5. to turn in a different direction.
put across,
  1. to cause to be understood or received favorably: She put across her new idea. He puts himself across well.
  2. to do successfully; accomplish: to put a project across.
  3. to be successful in (a form of deception): It was obviously a lie, but he put it across.
put aside/by,
  1. to store up; save.
  2. Also set aside.to put out of the way; place to one side: Put aside your books and come for a walk.
put away,
  1. to put in the designated place for storage: Put away the groceries as soon as you get home.
  2. to save, especially for later use: to put away a few dollars each week.
  3. to discard: Put away those childish notions.
  4. to drink or eat, especially in a large quantity; finish off: to put away a hearty supper after jogging.
  5. to confine in a jail or a mental institution: He was put away for four years.
  6. to put to death by humane means: The dog was so badly injured that the veterinarian had to put it away.
put down,
  1. to write down; register; record.
  2. to enter in a list, as of subscribers or contributors: Put me down for a $10 donation.
  3. to suppress; check; squelch: to put down a rebellion.
  4. to attribute; ascribe: We put your mistakes down to nervousness.
  5. to regard or categorize: He was put down as a chronic complainer.
  6. Informal.to criticize, especially in a contemptuous manner; disparage; belittle.
  7. Informal.to humble, humiliate, or embarrass.
  8. to pay as a deposit.
  9. to store for future use: to put down a case of wine.
  10. to dig or sink, as a well.
  11. to put (an animal) to death; put away.
  12. to land an aircraft or in an aircraft: We put down at Orly after six hours.
put forth,
  1. to bring out; bear; grow: The trees are putting forth new green shoots.
  2. to propose; present: No one has put forth a workable solution.
  3. to bring to public notice; publish: A new interpretation of the doctrine has been put forth.
  4. to exert; exercise: We will have to put forth our best efforts to win.
  5. to set out; depart: Dark clouds threatened as we put forth from the shore.
put forward,
  1. to propose; advance: I hesitated to put forward my plan.
  2. to nominate, promote, or support, as for a position: We put him forward for treasurer.
put in,
  1. Also put into.Nautical.to enter a port or harbor, especially for shelter, repairs, or provisions.
  2. to interpose; intervene.
  3. to spend (time) as indicated.
put in for, to apply for or request (something): I put in for a transfer to another department.
put off,
  1. to postpone; defer.
  2. to confuse or perturb; disconcert; repel: We were put off by the book's abusive tone.
  3. to get rid of by delay or evasion.
  4. to lay aside; take off.
  5. to start out, as on a voyage.
  6. to launch (a boat) from shore or from another vessel: They began to put off the lifeboats as the fire spread.
put on,
  1. to clothe oneself with (an article of clothing).
  2. to assume insincerely or falsely; pretend.
  3. to assume; adopt.
  4. to inflict; impose.
  5. to cause to be performed; produce; stage.
  6. Informal.to tease (a person), especially by pretending the truth of something that is untrue: You can't be serious—you're putting me on, aren't you?
  7. to act in a pretentious or ostentatious manner; exaggerate: All that putting on didn't impress anyone.
put out,
  1. to extinguish, as a fire.
  2. to confuse; embarrass.
  3. to be vexed or annoyed: He was put out when I missed our appointment.
  4. to subject to inconvenience.
  5. Baseball, Softball, Cricket.to cause to be removed from an opportunity to reach base or score; retire.
  6. to publish.
  7. to go out to sea.
  8. to manufacture; prepare; produce.
  9. to exert; apply: They were putting out their best efforts.
  10. Slang: Vulgar.(of a woman) to engage in coitus.
put over,
  1. to succeed in; accomplish: It will take an exceptional administrator to put over this reorganization.
  2. to postpone; defer: Discussion of this point will be put over until new evidence is introduced.
put through,
  1. to complete successfully; execute: He was not able to put through his project.
  2. to bring about; effect: The proposed revisions have not as yet been put through.
  3. to make a telephone connection for: Put me through to Los Angeles.
  4. to make (a telephone connection): Put a call through to Hong Kong.
  5. to cause to undergo or endure: She's been put through a lot the past year.
put up,
  1. to construct; erect.
  2. to can (vegetables, fruits, etc.); preserve (jam, jelly, etc.).
  3. to set or arrange (the hair).
  4. to provide (money); contribute.
  5. to accommodate; lodge.
  6. to display; show.
  7. to stake (money) to support a wager.
  8. to propose as a candidate; nominate: Someone is going to put him up for president.
  9. to offer, especially for public sale.
  10. Archaic.to sheathe one's sword; stop fighting.
put upon, to take unfair advantage of; impose upon: Some of the employees felt put upon when they were asked to work late.
put up to, to provoke; prompt; incite: Someone put him up to calling us.
put up with, to endure; tolerate; bear: I couldn't put up with the noise any longer.

Origin of put

before 1000; Middle English put(t)en to push, thrust, put, Old English *putian (as verbal noun putung an impelling, inciting); akin to pytan, potian to push, goad, cognate with Old Norse pota to thrust, poke
Related formswell-put, adjective
Can be confusedput putt

Synonyms for put

Synonym study

1. Put, place, lay, set mean to bring or take an object (or cause it to go) to a certain location or position, there to leave it. Put is the general word: to put the dishes on the table; to put one's hair up. Place is a more formal word, suggesting precision of movement or definiteness of location: He placed his hand on the Bible. Lay, meaning originally to cause to lie, and set, meaning originally to cause to sit, are used particularly to stress the position in which an object is put: lay usually suggests putting an object rather carefully into a horizontal position: to lay a pattern out on the floor. Set usually means to place upright: to set a child on a horse.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for put on

put on

verb (tr, mainly adverb)

to clothe oneself into put on a coat
(usually passive) to adopt (an attitude or feeling) insincerelyhis misery was just put on
to present or stage (a play, show, etc)
to increase or addshe put on weight; the batsman put on fifty runs before lunch
to cause (an electrical device) to function
(also preposition) to wager (money) on a horse race, game, etche put ten pounds on the favourite
(also preposition) to impose as a burden or levyto put a tax on cars
cricket to cause (a bowler) to bowl
put someone on
  1. to connect (a person) by telephone
  2. slangto mock or tease

noun put-on slang, mainly US and Canadian

a hoax or piece of mockery
an affected manner or mode of behaviour


verb puts, putting or put (mainly tr)

to cause to be (in a position or place)to put a book on the table
to cause to be (in a state, relation, etc)to put one's things in order
(foll by to) to cause (a person) to experience the endurance or suffering (of)to put to death; to put to the sword
to set or commit (to an action, task, or duty), esp by forcehe put him to work
to render, transform, or translateto put into English
to set (words) in a musical form (esp in the phrase put to music)
(foll by at) to estimatehe put the distance at fifty miles
(foll by to) to utilize (for the purpose of)he put his knowledge to good use
(foll by to) to couple a female animal (with a male) for the purpose of breedingthe farmer put his heifer to the bull
to state; expressto put it bluntly
to set or make (an end or limit)he put an end to the proceedings
to present for consideration in anticipation of an answer or vote; proposehe put the question to the committee; I put it to you that one day you will all die
to invest (money) in; give (support) tohe put five thousand pounds into the project
to impartto put zest into a party
to throw or cast
not know where to put oneself to feel awkward or embarrassed
put paid to to destroy irrevocably and utterlythe manager's disfavour put paid to their hopes for promotion
stay put to refuse to leave; keep one's position


a throw or cast, esp in putting the shot
Also called: put option stock exchange an option to sell a stated amount of securities at a specified price during a specified limited periodCompare call (def. 58)

Word Origin for put

C12 puten to push; related to Old English potian to push, Norwegian, Icelandic pota to poke
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 put on



late Old English *putian, implied in putung "instigation, an urging," literally "a putting;" related to pytan "put out, thrust out" (of eyes), probably from a Germanic stem that also produced Danish putte "to put," Swedish dialectal putta; Middle Dutch pote "scion, plant," Dutch poten "to plant," Old Norse pota "to poke."

Meaning "act of casting a heavy stone overhead" (as a trial of strength) is attested from c.1300. Obsolete past tense form putted is attested 14c.-15c. To put down "end by force or authority" (a rebellion, etc.) is from c.1300. Adjective phrase put out "angry, upset" is first recorded 1887; to put out, of a woman, "to offer oneself for sex" is from 1947. To put upon (someone) "play a trick on, impose on" is from 1690s. To put up with "tolerate, accept" (1755) was originally to put up, as in "to pocket." To put (someone) on "deceive" is from 1958.



"ruse, deception," 1937, from earlier adjectival meaning "assumed, feigned" (1620s), a figurative extension of the notion of putting on costumes or disguises; from put (v.) + on (adv.). The expression put (someone) on "play a trick on" seems to be a back-formation from the noun.



c.1300, "act of throwing a weight overhand as a test of strength," from put (v.). General meaning "act of putting" is from early 15c. Also cf. putt (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with put on

put on


Clothe oneself with, as in I put on my socks. [Mid-1400s]


Apply, activate, as in He put on the brakes. [Mid-1700s]


Assume affectedly, pretend to, as in He put on a British accent. This idiom is sometimes put as put it on, as in He's not really asleep; he's putting it on. [Late 1600s; late 1800s]


put someone on. Tease or mislead another, as in I don't believe you! You're putting me on. [Slang; mid-1900s]


Add to, gain, as in Please put this on our bill, or I've put on some weight.


Cause to be performed, produce, as in I hear they're putting on Shakespeare this summer. [Late 1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with put

  • put a bug in someone's ear
  • put across
  • put a damper on
  • put all one's eggs in one basket
  • put an end to
  • put an idea in one's head
  • put a premium on
  • put aside
  • put a spin on
  • put at ease
  • put at someone's disposal
  • put away
  • put back the clock
  • put behind one
  • put by
  • put down
  • put down roots
  • put forth
  • put forward
  • put hair on one's chest
  • put heads together
  • put ideas into someone's head
  • put in
  • put in a good word
  • put in an appearance
  • put in mind of
  • put in mothballs
  • put in one's place
  • put in one's two cents
  • put in order
  • put in the way of
  • put into effect
  • put into practice
  • put into words
  • put it mildly
  • put it to
  • put lead in one's pencil
  • put money on
  • put off
  • put on
  • put on a brave face
  • put on a brave front
  • put on airs
  • put on an act
  • put on a pedestal
  • put one in mind of
  • put one into the picture
  • put one off
  • put one off one's stride
  • put one out
  • put one's back into it
  • put one's back up
  • put one's best foot forward
  • put one's cards on the table
  • put oneself in someone's place
  • put oneself out
  • put one's face on
  • put one's feet up
  • put one's finger on
  • put one's foot down
  • put one's foot in it
  • put one's hand to
  • put one's head on the block
  • put one's house in order
  • put one's mind to
  • put one's money where one's mouth is
  • put one's nose out of joint
  • put one's oar in
  • put one's shoulder to the wheel
  • put on hold
  • put on ice
  • put on one's thinking cap
  • put on the dog
  • put on the feed bag
  • put on the map
  • put on the spot
  • put on weight
  • put our heads together
  • put out
  • put out feelers
  • put out of business
  • put out of one's mind
  • put out to grass
  • put over
  • put paid to
  • put right
  • put someone away
  • put someone down
  • put someone in his or her place
  • put someone on
  • put someone out of his or her misery
  • put someone right
  • put someone through his or her paces
  • put someone up
  • put someone up to
  • put someone wise
  • put that in your pipe and smoke it
  • put the arm on
  • put the blame on
  • put the cart before the horse
  • put the fear of God into
  • put the finger on
  • put the heat on
  • put their heads together
  • put the kibosh on
  • put the lid on
  • put the make on
  • put the screws on
  • put the skids on
  • put the skids under
  • put through
  • put through the wringer
  • put to bed
  • put to death
  • put to flight
  • put together
  • put to good use
  • put to it, be
  • put to rights
  • put to sea
  • put to shame
  • put to sleep
  • put to the test
  • put two and two together
  • put up
  • put upon, be
  • put up or shut up
  • put up with
  • put wise
  • put words in someone's mouth

also see:

  • (put) at ease
  • (put on a) brave face
  • cart before the horse, put
  • clamp down (put the clamps on)
  • flesh out (put flesh and bone on)
  • for (put in one's) two cents
  • (put on a) hair shirt
  • hard put
  • (put) in effect
  • (put) in the picture
  • lay (put) one's cards on the table
  • lay (put) one's hands on
  • lay (put) the blame on
  • (put someone's) nose out of joint
  • not put something past someone
  • (put) off the track
  • (put) on a pedestal
  • (put) out of business
  • pull (put over) a fast one
  • put one's head on the block
  • throw (put) off the scent

Also see underset.

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