Nearby words

  1. shoveler,
  2. shovelful,
  3. shovelhead,
  4. shovelnose,
  5. shovelnose sturgeon,
  6. show and tell,
  7. show bag,
  8. show bill,
  9. show biz,
  10. show business


Origin of show

before 900; (v.) Middle English showen, s(c)hewen to look at, show, Old English scēawian to look at; cognate with Dutch schowen, German schauen; (noun) Middle English s(c)hew(e), derivative of the v.

Related forms

Synonym study

24, 25. Show, display, ostentation, pomp suggest the presentation of a more or less elaborate, often pretentious, appearance for the public to see. Show often indicates an external appearance that may or may not accord with actual facts: a show of modesty. Display applies to an intentionally conspicuous show: a great display of wealth. Ostentation is vain, ambitious, pretentious, or offensive display: tasteless and vulgar ostentation. Pomp suggests such a show of dignity and authority as characterizes a ceremony of state: The coronation was carried out with pomp and ceremonial. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for show up

show up

verb (adverb)

to reveal or be revealed clearly
(tr) to expose or reveal the faults or defects of by comparison
(tr) informal to put to shame; embarrasshe showed me up in front of my friends
(intr) informal to appear or arrive


verb shows, showing, showed, shown or showed

to make, be, or become visible or noticeableto show one's dislike
(tr) to present to view; exhibithe showed me a picture
(tr) to indicate or explain; proveto show that the earth moves round the sun
(tr) to exhibit or present (oneself or itself) in a specific characterto show oneself to be trustworthy
(tr; foll by how and an infinitive) to instruct by demonstrationshow me how to swim
(tr) to indicate or registera barometer shows changes in the weather
(tr) to grant or bestowto show favour to someone
(intr) to appearto show to advantage
to exhibit, display, or offer (goods, etc) for salethree artists were showing at the gallery
(tr) to allege, as in a legal documentto show cause
to present (a play, film, etc) or (of a play, etc) to be presented, as at a theatre or cinema
(tr) to guide or escortplease show me to my room
show in to conduct a person into a room or building by opening the door for him
show out to conduct a person out of a room or building by opening the door for him
(intr) to win a place in a horse race, etc
to give a performance of riding and handling (a horse) to display its best points
(intr) informal to put in an appearance; arrive


a display or exhibition
a public spectacle
an ostentatious or pretentious display
a theatrical or other entertainment
a trace or indication
obstetrics a discharge of blood at the onset of labour
US, Australian and NZ informal a chance; opportunity (esp in the phrases give someone a show, he's got no show of winning, etc)
a sporting event consisting of contests in which riders perform different exercises to show their skill and their horses' ability and breeding
slang, mainly British a thing or affair (esp in the phrases good show, bad show, etc)
Australian and NZ mining a slight indication of the presence of gold
a display of farm animals, with associated competitions
for show in order to attract attention
run the show informal to take charge of or manage an affair, business, etc
steal the show to draw the most attention or admiration, esp unexpectedly
stop the show informal
  1. (of a stage act, etc) to receive so much applause as to interrupt the performance
  2. to be received with great enthusiasm
See also show off, show up

Word Origin for show

Old English scēawian; related to Old High German scouwōn to look, Old Norse örskār careful, Greek thuoskoos seer

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 show up
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for show up




The first discharge of blood in menstruation.
The discharge of bloody mucus from the vagina indicating the start of labor.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with show up

show up


Be clearly visible, as in The print doesn't show up against this dark background. [Late 1800s]


Put in an appearance, arrive, as in I wonder if he'll show up at all. [Late 1800s]


Expose or reveal the true character of, as in This failure showed up their efforts as a waste of time. [Early 1800s]


Also, show someone up. Surpass someone in ability, outdo someone, as in John's high score on that math test really showed up the rest of the class. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with show

  • show and tell
  • show must go on, the
  • show off
  • show of hands
  • show one's colors
  • show one's face
  • show one's hand
  • show one's heels
  • show one's teeth
  • show one's true colors
  • show signs of
  • show someone the door
  • show someone the ropes
  • show someone a good time
  • show someone out
  • show the way
  • show the white feather
  • show to advantage
  • show up

also see:

  • bare (show) one's teeth
  • dog-and-pony show
  • false colors, show
  • for show
  • get the show on the road
  • go to show
  • know (show) the ropes
  • one-man show
  • road show
  • run the show
  • steal the show
  • (show one's) true colors
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.