work up

Idioms & Phrases

work up

  1. Arouse emotions; see worked up.

  2. Increase one's skill, status, or responsibility through effort, as in He worked up to 30 sit-ups a day, or She worked up to bank manager. Also see work one's way. [Second half of 1600s]

  3. Intensify gradually, as in The film worked up to a thrilling climax. [Second half of 1600s]

  4. Develop or produce by effort, as in Swimming always works up an appetite. [Second half of 1600s]

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