an appraisal or estimation, especially as the result of sizing up: asking for a size-up of the new office equipment.

Nearby words

  1. sizar,
  2. size,
  3. size queen,
  4. size up,
  5. size zero,
  6. size-weight illusion,
  7. sizeable,
  8. sized,
  9. sizeism,
  10. sizer

Origin of size-up

noun use of verb phrase size up




the spatial dimensions, proportions, magnitude, or bulk of anything: the size of a farm; the size of the fish you caught.
considerable or great magnitude: to seek size rather than quality.
one of a series of graduated measures for articles of manufacture or trade: children's sizes of shoes.
extent; amount; range: a fortune of great size.
actual condition, circumstance, or state of affairs: That's about the size of it.
a number of population or contents: What size is Springfield, Illinois? The size of that last shipment was only a dozen.
Obsolete. a fixed standard of quality or quantity, as for food or drink.

verb (used with object), sized, siz·ing.

to separate or sort according to size.
to make of a certain size.
Metallurgy. to press (a sintered compact) to close tolerances.
Obsolete. to regulate or control according to a fixed standard.

Verb Phrases

size up, Informal.
  1. to form an estimate of (a situation, person, etc.); judge: They sized him up with a look.
  2. to meet a certain standard: He doesn't size up to my expectations.

Origin of size

1250–1300; (noun) Middle English syse orig., control, regulation, limit < Old French sise, aphetic variant of assise assize; (v.) in part representing late Middle English sisen to regulate (itself partly derivative of the noun, partly aphetic variant of assisen to fix, ordain, assess < Old French assiser, derivative of assise assize), in part derivative of the noun in later senses

Can be confusedsighs size

Synonym study

1. Size, volume, mass, bulk are terms referring to the extent or dimensions of that which has magnitude and occupies space. Size is the general word: of great size; small in size. Volume often applies to something that has no fixed shape: Smoke has volume. Mass, also, does not suggest shape, but suggests a quantity of matter in a solid body: a mass of concrete. Bulk suggests weight, and often a recognizable, though perhaps unwieldy, shape: the huge bulk of an elephant. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for size up

size up

verb (adverb)

(tr) to make an assessment of (a person, problem, etc)
to conform to or make so as to conform to certain specifications of dimension




the dimensions, proportions, amount, or extent of something
large or great dimensions, etc
one of a series of graduated measurements, as of clothingshe takes size 4 shoes
informal state of affairs as summarizedhe's bankrupt, that's the size of it


to sort according to size
(tr) to make or cut to a particular size or sizes
Derived Formssizer, noun

Word Origin for size

C13: from Old French sise, shortened from assise assize


The use of -size and -sized after large or small is redundant, except when describing something which is made in specific sizes: a large (not large-size) organization. Similarly, in size is redundant in the expressions large in size and small in size




Also called: sizing a thin gelatinous mixture, made from glue, clay, or wax, that is used as a sealer or filler on paper, cloth, or plaster surfaces


(tr) to treat or coat (a surface) with size
Derived Formssizy, adjective

Word Origin for size

C15: perhaps from Old French sise; see size 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 size up
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with size up

size up

Make an estimate, opinion, or judgment of, as in She sized up her opponent and decided to withdraw from the election. This usage transfers measuring the size of something to broader meaning. [Late 1800s]


In addition to the idiom beginning with size

  • size up

also see:

  • cut down (to size)
  • pick on (someone your own size)
  • take down a notch (to size)
  • that's about the size of it
  • try on (for size)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.