Meaning of “make sth up” in the English Dictionary

"make sth up" in English

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make sth up

phrasal verb with make uk /meɪk/ us /meɪk/ verb made, made


B2 to invent something, such as an excuse or a story, often in order to deceive:

I made up an excuse about having to look after the kids.
My dad was always really good at making up stories.

More examples

  • They made up an excuse not to go to the meeting.
  • She told us stories about her family, but they were all made up.
  • There was no fire - he made it all up.
  • If you can't think what to write, just make something up.
  • I made up a few words about his role in the company.


to prepare or arrange something by putting different things together:

Could you make up a list of all the things that need to be done?
He asked the man behind the counter to make up a box with a selection of chocolates.
The maid will make up your room later.

specialized fabrics to produce or prepare something from cloth:

We could use the rest of the material to make up some curtains.

specialized publishing If you make up a page, book, or newspaper, you arrange the text and pictures in the form in which they will be printed.

If you make up a bed for someone, you put sheets and covers on a bed so that they have a place to sleep in your home.

UK If you make up a fire, you prepare it or put more wood or coal on it when it is burning.


to make an amount of something complete or correct:

I have £20,000 and I need £25,000 but my parents have promised to make up the difference.
UK I suspect we were only invited to make up numbers (= to provide enough people).

(Definition of “make sth up” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)