build up

Idioms & Phrases

build up

  1. Fill an area with houses or other buildings, urbanize. For example, We want to protect the wetlands against those who want to build up the area. [c. 1400]

  2. Gradually develop, increase in stages. For example, I want to build up my endurance for the race. [Early 1700s]

  3. Accumulate or collect, as in A lot of rust has built up on the farm machinery. [Mid-1900s]

  4. Increase, strengthen, develop toward, as in The sound built up until it was nearly deafening, or His argument was building up to a grand climax. [c. 1930]

  5. Establish or enhance a reputation; praise or flatter. For example, Months before the official campaign could begin, they had been building up the senator's image. [c. 1930]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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