[ tahy-uhp ]
See synonyms for tie-up on Thesaurus.com
  1. a temporary stoppage or slowing of business, traffic, telephone service, etc., as due to a strike, storm, or accident.

  2. the act or state of tying up or the state of being tied up.

  1. an involvement, connection, or entanglement: the tie-up between the two companies; his tie-up with the crime syndicate.

  2. a mooring place; place where a boat may be tied up.

  3. a cow barn with stalls.

  4. a stall allotted to each cow in such a barn.

Origin of tie-up

First recorded in 1705–15; noun use of verb phrase tie up

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use tie-up in a sentence

  • First of all, wrap a portion of damp newspaper round the roots, and then tie up with dry paper.

    How to Know the Ferns | S. Leonard Bastin
  • Bud went out with ropes to catch and tie up the burros and their two saddle horses.

    Cabin Fever | B. M. Bower
  • Whalers and merchantmen used to tie up there a hundred years ago, where now only fishing boats come.

    The Belted Seas | Arthur Colton
  • "I tie up his head so that he cannot see, or smell, and so fall to neighing to the other horses," I explained to her.

    The Way of a Man | Emerson Hough
  • He was to tie up for the night at a little village near Marly-le-Roi.

British Dictionary definitions for tie up

tie up

  1. (tr) to attach or bind securely with or as if with string, rope, etc

  2. to moor (a vessel)

  1. (tr; often passive) to engage the attentions of: he's tied up at the moment and can't see you

  2. (tr; often passive) to conclude (the organization of something): the plans for the trip were tied up well in advance

  3. to come or bring to a complete standstill

  4. (tr) to invest or commit (funds, etc) and so make unavailable for other uses

  5. (tr) to subject (property) to conditions that prevent sale, alienation, or other action

  1. a link or connection

  2. mainly US and Canadian a standstill

  1. mainly US and Canadian an informal term for traffic jam

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with tie-up


Fasten securely; also, moor a ship. For example, Can you help me tie up these bundles? or The forecast was terrible, so we decided to tie up at the dock and wait out the storm. The first usage dates from the early 1500s, the nautical usage from the mid-1800s.

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