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[fin-ish] /ˈfɪn ɪʃ/
verb (used with object)
to bring (something) to an end or to completion; complete:
to finish a novel; to finish breakfast.
to come to the end of (a course, period of time, etc.):
to finish school.
to use completely (often followed by up or off):
to finish up a can of paint; to finish off the rest of the milk.
to overcome completely; destroy or kill (often followed by off):
This spray will finish off the cockroaches.
to complete and perfect in detail; put the final touches on (sometimes followed by up):
He decided to finish his plan more carefully. She finished up a painting.
to put a finish on (wood, metal, etc.):
We finished the desk in antique red lacquer.
to perfect (a person) in education, accomplishments, social graces, etc.
to ready (livestock) for market by feeding a diet calculated to produce the desired weight.
verb (used without object)
to come to an end:
The course finishes in January.
to complete a course, project, etc. (sometimes followed by up):
I finished before he did. It was nine o'clock when we finished up.
(of livestock) to become fattened for market.
the end or conclusion; the final part or last stage.
the end of a hunt, race, etc.:
a close finish.
a decisive ending:
a fight to the finish.
the quality of being finished or completed with smoothness, elegance, etc.:
to admire the finish of one's writing.
educational or social polish.
the manner in which an object is perfected or finished in its preparation, or an effect imparted in finishing.
the surface coating or texture of wood, metal, etc.
something used or serving to finish, complete, or perfect a thing.
woodwork or the like, especially in the interior of a building, not essential to the structure but used for purposes of ornament, neatness, etc.:
a finish of black walnut.
Also called finish coat, finishing coat. a final coat of plaster or paint.
a material for application in finishing.
Animal Husbandry. the fat tissue of livestock.
the flavor remaining in the mouth after a wine has been swallowed.
Verb phrases
finish with,
  1. to bring to completion:
    She's finished with her latest novel.
  2. to put aside, break all relations with, or reject finally:
    He's finished with football and will play only baseball now. After the way they treated us, we're finished with them.
Origin of finish
1300-50; Middle English finisshen < Anglo-French, Middle French finiss-, long stem of finir < Latin fīnīre to end. See fine1
Related forms
finisher, noun
nonfinishing, adjective, noun
prefinish, verb (used with object), noun
Can be confused
Finnish, finish.
1. terminate, conclude, close. 13. See end1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for finish up
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the prize was still at large—the time had come to finish up the hunt.

    Wild Animals I Have Known Ernest Thompson Seton
  • My men were all over it now, and we was gettin' things in shape to finish up.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • Perhaps it is a little easier to work up most of the bend while the metal is hot and finish up while it is cold.

  • "Well, we've had a jolly evening to finish up with, anyway," he said.

  • You've known me ever since I was a boy, and I've known you, and it's nobody's business but ours if we want to finish up together.'

    Julia The Apostate Josephine Daskam
  • He had promised to finish up in a half-hour, but there was more work than he had figured.

    Erik Dorn Ben Hecht
British Dictionary definitions for finish up


verb (mainly transitive)
to bring to an end; complete, conclude, or stop
(intransitive) sometimes foll by up. to be at or come to the end; use up
to bring to a desired or complete condition
to put a particular surface texture on (wood, cloth, etc)
(often foll by off) to destroy or defeat completely
to train (a person) in social graces and talents
(intransitive) foll by with
  1. to end a relationship or association
  2. to stop punishing a person: I haven't finished with you yet!
the final or last stage or part; end
  1. the death, destruction, or absolute defeat of a person or one side in a conflict: a fight to the finish
  2. the person, event, or thing that brings this about
  1. the surface texture or appearance of wood, cloth, etc: a rough finish
  2. a preparation, such as varnish, used to produce such a texture
a thing, event, etc, that completes
completeness and high quality of workmanship
refinement in social graces
(sport) ability to sprint at the end of a race: he has a good finish
Word Origin
C14: from Old French finir, from Latin fīnīre see fine1
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 finish up



late 14c., "to bring to an end;" mid-15c., "to come to an end," from Old French finiss-, present participle stem of fenir (13c.) "stop, finish, come to an end, die," from Latin finire "to limit, set bounds, put an end to, come to an end," from finis "boundary, limit, border, end," of unknown origin, perhaps related to figere "to fasten, fix" (see fix). Meaning "to kill" is from 1755. Related: Finished; finishing. Finishing school is from 1836.


1779, "that which finishes or gives completion," from finish (v.). Meaning "the end" is from 1790. Finish line attested from 1873.

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



To put a disastrous end to something or to someone's prospects; COOK someone's GOOSE: She finished him off with a passing shot (1755+)

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