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or build-up

[bild-uhp] /ˈbɪldˌʌp/
a building up, as of military forces; increase in amount or number.
a process of growth; strengthening; development:
the buildup of heavy industry.
an accumulation, as of a particular type of material:
a buildup of salt deposits.
an increase, as in potential, intensity, or pressure:
A buildup of suspense began halfway through the movie.
a progressive or sequential development:
the buildup of helium atoms from hydrogen.
praise or publicity designed to enhance a reputation or popularize someone or something:
The studio spent $100,000 on the new star's buildup.
a process of preparation designed to make possible the achievement of an ultimate objective:
a lengthy buildup to a sales pitch.
encouragement; a psychological lift:
Every time I need a buildup, I look at her picture.
Origin of buildup
1925-30, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase build up


[bild] /bɪld/
verb (used with object), built or (Archaic) builded; building.
to construct (especially something complex) by assembling and joining parts or materials:
to build a house.
to establish, increase, or strengthen (often followed by up):
to build a business; to build up one's hopes.
to mold, form, or create:
to build boys into men.
to base; found:
a relationship built on trust.
  1. to make (words) from letters.
  2. to assemble (cards) according to number, suit, etc., as in melding.
verb (used without object), built or (Archaic) builded; building.
to engage in the art, practice, or business of building.
to form or construct a plan, system of thought, etc. (usually followed by on or upon):
He built on the philosophies of the past.
to increase or develop toward a maximum, as of intensity, tempo, or magnitude (often followed by up):
The drama builds steadily toward a climax.
the physical structure, especially of a person; physique; figure:
He had a strong build.
the manner or form of construction:
The house was of modern build.
  1. a version of a program after compilation, typically an update to an existing version made before the program is released.
  2. the process of producing a software build.
  3. a new version or update of data in a database or on a website:
    frequent, incremental builds of data.
  1. a vertical joint.
  2. the vertical dimension of a stone laid on its bed.
Verb phrases
build in/into, to build or incorporate as part of something else:
to build in bookcases between the windows; an allowance for travel expenses built into the budget.
build up,
  1. to develop or increase:
    to build up a bank account.
  2. to strengthen.
  3. to prepare in stages.
  4. to fill in with houses; develop into an urban area.
  5. to praise or flatter.
before 1150; Middle English bilden, Old English byldan, derivative of bold, variant of botl dwelling, house
Related forms
buildable, adjective
misbuild, verb, misbuilt, misbuilding.
outbuild, verb (used with object), outbuilt, outbuilding.
prebuild, verb (used with object), prebuilt, prebuilding.
superbuild, verb, superbuilt, superbuilding.
unbuildable, adjective
underbuild, verb, underbuilt, underbuilding.
Can be confused
billed, build. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for build-up
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • build-up of military strength to resist aggression by other planetary governments.

    The Cosmic Computer Henry Beam Piper
  • But with this build-up, it will seem like an ordinary hunt for a criminal gang.

    The Best Made Plans Everett B. Cole
  • That must have been a build-up, but Ben goofed his cue to move in on Sco and me for a close.

    The Real Hard Sell William W Stuart
  • And they were ready to spend a hunk of moolah on the build-up.

    Breeder Reaction Winston Marks
  • We know it's all a build-up for you to make a deal for them, eh?

    The Invaders William Fitzgerald Jenkins
  • It accelerates the continental defense program and the build-up of ready military reserve forces.

British Dictionary definitions for build-up


verb builds, building, built
to make, construct, or form by joining parts or materials: to build a house
(intransitive) to be a builder by profession
(transitive) to order the building of: the government builds most of our hospitals
foll by on or upon. to base; found: his theory was not built on facts
(transitive) to establish and develop: it took ten years to build a business
(transitive) to make in a particular way or for a particular purpose: the car was not built for speed
(intransitive) often foll by up. to increase in intensity: the wind was building
  1. to add cards to each other to form (a sequence or set)
  2. (intransitive) to add to the layout of cards on the table from one's hand
physical form, figure, or proportions: a man with an athletic build
Word Origin
Old English byldan; related to bylda farmer, bold building, Old Norse bōl farm, dwelling; see bower1
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
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Word Origin and History for build-up

also buildup, 1927, "accumulation of positive publicity," from build (v.) + up (adv.). Of any accumulation (but especially military) from 1943.



late Old English byldan "construct a house," verb form of bold "house," from Proto-Germanic *buthlam (cf. Old Saxon bodl, Old Frisian bodel "building, house"), from PIE *bhu- "to dwell," from root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow" (see be). Rare in Old English; in Middle English it won out over more common Old English timbran (see timber). Modern spelling is unexplained. Figurative use from mid-15c. Of physical things other than buildings from late 16c. Related: Builded (archaic); built; building.

In the United States, this verb is used with much more latitude than in England. There, as Fennimore Cooper puts it, everything is BUILT. The priest BUILDS up a flock; the speculator a fortune; the lawyer a reputation; the landlord a town; and the tailor, as in England, BUILDS up a suit of clothes. A fire is BUILT instead of made, and the expression is even extended to individuals, to be BUILT being used with the meaning of formed. [Farmer, "Slang and Its Analogues," 1890]


"style of construction," 1660s, from build (v.). Earlier in this sense was built (1610s). Meaning "physical construction and fitness of a person" attested by 1981. Earliest sense, now obsolete, was "a building" (early 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for build-up



  1. One's physique, esp one's figure or shape; bod: a husky build/ sexy build (1850s+)
  2. A show whose earnings continue to increase: The revue was a build once word-of-mouth took hold (1950s+ Theater)
  3. : It's been a long build, but we can make our move now


To prepare someone for swindling, extortion, etc; SET someone UP (1920s+ Underworld)

[first noun sense perhaps influenced by earlier build, ''the look and shape of tailored clothing'']



  1. Publicity and other provisions for introducing a new product, entertainer, etc: the buildup for a concert (1920s+)
  2. The careful preparation of a potential customer or victim (1940s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with build-up
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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