Definition of lift in English:

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Pronunciation: /lift/


[with object]
1Raise to a higher position or level: he lifted his trophy over his head
More example sentences
  • He also knows that whoever lifts the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Bombay next month will know that they've been through a scrap to end all scraps.
  • It is a startling admission from the manager who ended the club's 36-year wait for a trophy by lifting the Tennents Scottish Cup two years ago.
  • The only time that a Burnley captain has lifted the famous old trophy was in 1914 and within months a World War had started.
raise, hoist, heave, haul up, heft, raise up/aloft, elevate, hold high;
pick up, grab, take up, scoop up, snatch up;
winch up, jack up, lever up
informal hump
literary upheave
1.1Move (one’s eyes or face) to face upward and look at someone or something: he lifted his eyes from the paper for an instant
More example sentences
  • And for the first time that day, Valerie lifted her eyes upwards and almost gasped at where she had wandered to.
  • He paused as the woman moved away, then lifted his eyes to the ceiling again.
  • I stole fifteen minutes to go and sit on the patio, closing my eyes and lifting my face to the sun.
1.2Increase the volume or pitch of (one’s voice): Willie sang boldly, lifting up his voice
More example sentences
  • So when some police officers do that, my voice will be lifted primarily to find out why they would do such a thing, not to call for their heads.
  • Before he climbed into the back seat, he turned to the house and lifted his voice to its full volume.
amplify, raise, make louder, increase
1.3Increase (a price or amount): higher than expected oil prices lifted Oklahoma’s revenue
More example sentences
  • The ability to boost prices is helping to lift margins despite rising costs.
  • Farmers are now expecting prices to lift by an equivalent amount.
  • It warned that it expected raw material prices to lift by a similar amount this year.
1.4Transport by air: a helicopter lifted 11 crew members to safety from the ship
More example sentences
  • Five men were injured and were lifted by medevac helicopter to another base.
  • It became so large that the aquarium arranged for it to be lifted by helicopter to the ocean.
  • Among these were 2,132 people in isolated villages who were lifted out by helicopter.
1.5Hit or kick (a ball) high into the air.
Example sentences
  • He'll never hit long homers, but he has such remarkable bat control that he can alter his swing to lift the ball.
  • When you have to lift or flip the ball into the air, you bring more moving parts into play, and this hurts your feel.
  • A bowler who exerts a lot of energy into lifting and turning the ball to get a lot of revolutions and hook.
1.6 [no object] Move upward; be raised: Thomas’s eyelids drowsily lifted their voices lifted in wails and cries
More example sentences
  • Once, when she was in elementary school, the nun stood at the front of a church filled with children out in the pews with their voices lifted in song.
  • Contracting her abs, she keeps her chin lifted and raises her upper torso as high as possible.
  • His eye-lids lifted and he managed a quirk of a smile in greeting.
1.7 [no object] (Of a cloud, fog, etc.) move upward or away: the factory smoke hung low, never lifted the gray weather lifted on the following Wednesday
More example sentences
  • The fog was lifting, revealing a grey sky, and a metallic coloured ocean.
  • The storm clouds lift, the storm clouds descend.
  • A cloud has lifted following the change in management.
clear, rise, disperse, dissipate, disappear, vanish, dissolve
1.8Perform cosmetic surgery on (especially the face or breasts) to reduce sagging: surgeons lift and remove excess skin from the face and neck
More example sentences
  • When surgeons perform a facelift they lift the skin of the face and neck and expose a raw surface.
  • The mid-facelift is performed to lift this soft tissue back into a higher more youthful appearance.
  • The skin will then be lifted up, pulled back and any excess will be trimmed off.
2Pick up and move to a different position: he lifted her down from the pony’s back
More example sentences
  • He picked her up and lifted her up almost on her shoulder.
  • Feeling something crunch beneath him, he lifts himself up and pulls a crinkled plastic bag from the cushion.
  • She felt his strong arms snake behind her back, pulling her closer and lifting her up slightly so her toes were barely touching the ground.
2.1Enable (someone or something) to escape from an unpleasant situation: two billion barrels of oil that could lift this nation out of chronic poverty
More example sentences
  • She was an actress with an opera singer's voice and vocal skills, which enabled her to lift her performances out of the banal into the realms of realism.
  • The deal is aimed at opening up global markets to producers from the developing world, enabling them to start lifting their countries out of poverty.
  • Just half of the amount could pay off the international debt of 22 of the poorest countries in Africa, lifting millions of people out of poverty.
3Raise (a person’s spirits or confidence); encourage or cheer: we heard inspiring talks that lifted our spirits
More example sentences
  • His voice lifts the soul and spirit inspiring our party of schoolchildren to take an excitingly fresh tilt at the English countryside.
  • This is powerful, tender, big-hearted and dangerously exciting music that's fit to lift the spirits and raise parties from the dead.
  • Your letters did much to boost his morale and lift his spirits.
boost, raise, buoy up, elevate, cheer up, perk up, uplift, brighten up, gladden, encourage, stimulate, revive
informal buck up
3.1 [no object] (Of a person’s mood) become happier: suddenly his heart lifted, and he could have wept with relief
More example sentences
  • Thanks, but as you can see, her mood is finally lifting, thanks to Timmy, Robert, and some close friends.
  • I thought my mood would miraculously lift once I didn't have to deal with hate mail and evil comments.
  • He walked into the restaurant and the mood lifted.
4Formally remove or end (a legal restriction, decision, or ban): the European Community lifted its oil embargo against South Africa
More example sentences
  • But the government Monday lifted the ban, and said it would welcome aid.
  • It has paid lobbyists to persuade government ministers to lift restrictions on operating casinos.
  • The latest surge follows Taiwan's decision last year to lift some restrictions on investing in China.
cancel, remove, withdraw, revoke, rescind, annul, void, discontinue, end, stop, terminate
5 informal Steal (something, especially a minor item of property): the shirt she had lifted from a supermarket
More example sentences
  • He plays a high-stakes burglar who lifts the diamonds and then gets hoodwinked by a rival gang.
  • Twenty-five per cent of house burglaries are sneak-ins and almost half are offences, where the burglar lifts keys from the house to steal the car.
  • Apparently he immediately dismissed me as harmless - I wasn't going to shoplift or lift the cash register.
5.1Use (a person’s work or ideas) without permission or acknowledgment; plagiarize: this is a hackneyed adventure lifted straight from a vintage Lassie episode
More example sentences
  • It could have been lifted straight out of the '80s.
  • The congestion charge, introduced in London on Monday, has been lifted straight out of the professor's 1951 essay.
  • It is the kind of story which could have been lifted straight from the pages of one of her fictional tales.
plagiarize, pirate, copy, reproduce, poach, steal
informal crib, rip off, pinch


1Something that is used for lifting, in particular.
Example sentences
  • The council will not provide a chair lift, a bath hoist, ceiling hoist or a permanent ramp.
  • He hoisted me up in a lopsided fireman's lift and carried me out.
  • The vice president's wife rode a hydraulic lift to reach the top of the 40-foot tree.
1.1 British term for elevator.
1.2A device incorporating a moving cable for carrying people, typically skiers, up or down a mountain.
Example sentences
  • The year before, I had begun getting her used to the mountains by carrying her on lifts and skiing down gentle slopes, holding her in my arms like a baby kangaroo.
  • Why do we stretch to the limits of our stamina and sometimes risk our lives climbing mountains, when chair lifts and gondolas provide comfort?
  • A maze of quality runs links lifts at the mountain top, the only fault being the lack of decent slopes heading back down into the town.
1.3A built-up heel or device worn in a boot or shoe to make the wearer appear taller or to correct shortening of a leg.
Example sentences
  • The patients were rehabilitated in a boot with a heel lift and were permitted full weightbearing as soon as tolerated.
  • Showing more leg, when there is leg worth showing, will make you appear taller, as will a shoe with a little lift to it.
  • Differences greater than 2 cm may merit correction with heel lifts.
2An act of lifting: weightlifters attempting a particularly heavy lift
More example sentences
  • The other two days, go light on these lifts but heavy on all others.
  • I never do burns for heavy compound lifts, such as squats or bent rows.
  • There were none, except perhaps the slight lift of an eyebrow as he noticed Cory's gaze.
push, boost, hoist, heave, thrust, shove
2.1A rise in price or amount: the company has already produced a 10 percent lift in profits
More example sentences
  • "Perhaps they are trying to give the share price a lift, " he said.
  • And he predicts a big lift in goat prices is on the way.
  • There is nothing better than a lift in beef prices at the start of September to put more pep in the step of producers and yesterday was one of those days.
2.2 informal An instance of stealing or plagiarizing something.
2.3An upward force that counteracts the force of gravity, produced by changing the direction and speed of a moving stream of air: it had separate engines to provide lift and generate forward speed
More example sentences
  • Such torques are proposed to be counteracted anteriorly by lift forces generated by the head and pectoral fins.
  • Gliding works by having a gliding airfoil design that generates lift forces, keeping the animal in the air longer.
  • Any secondary school physics text or pilot licence manual will tell you that aerofoils generate lift because of the Venturi effect.
2.4The maximum weight that an aircraft can raise.
Example sentences
  • To sustain an airplane in the air it is enough that the lift be equal to the weight, but for an airplane take off the lift must be bigger than weight.
  • Just how large is the inertial force required to oscillate a wing relative to the total lift that the wing must support?
  • Under normal flying conditions, they do not increase the lift of the airplane or materially aid the maneuverability.
3A free ride in another person’s vehicle: Miss Green is giving me a lift back to school
More example sentences
  • They wanted a lift in her vehicle; there was no choice but to take them in.
  • She almost wasn't, forgetting to book holiday and all, but she's got a free ticket, a lift down there.
  • On a walk, at the theatre, in a bus, at a restaurant or a roadside joint, or even when a stranger, who is given a lift by you, rides on the pillion, people are strangely silent.
a ride, a drive, transportation
4A feeling of encouragement or increased cheerfulness: winning this game has given everyone on the team a lift
More example sentences
  • ‘It has given the security department a lift and it is encouraging that there is now a serious deterrent,’ he said.
  • We want to give them a lift, encouraging the good ones to stick with it and resist the temptation to jack it all in and run off with a Spanish waiter.
  • He gave a lift and a spur to a BBC office which could often be in a state of chaos.
boost, fillip, stimulus, impetus, encouragement, spur, push;
improvement, enhancement
informal shot in the arm, pick-me-up



lift a finger (or hand)

[usually with negative] Make the slightest effort to do something, especially to help someone: he never once lifted a finger to get Jimmy released from prison
More example sentences
  • Can all of those who are opposed to the sale of the local amenity say with their hand on their heart that they ever lifted a finger to try to make a success of it?
  • Local councillors come and go, all express a sincere desire to commiserate, but none has ever lifted a finger.
  • You can play this song and think of politicians, or officialdom, or your favourite target of hatred - its strength lies in its subtlety, its ability to point at decaying humanity without ever lifting a finger.

lift his (or its) leg

informal (Of a male dog) urinate.
Example sentences
  • Red lifted his leg and peed happily upon a small sage bush.
  • Mr and Mrs This-is-Max-he's a-Labrador took themselves and Max off so fast the poor dog didn't have time to lift his leg on the gate post as he passed.
  • In the short one-block distance from our house to hers he had already emptied his bladder, so I told her that if he lifted his leg to mark anything that she should just keep walking because he would be marking with imaginary pee.

Phrasal verbs

lift off

(Of an aircraft, spacecraft, or rocket) rise from the ground or a launch pad, especially vertically.
take off, become airborne, take to the air, take wing;
be launched, blast off, rise



Example sentences
  • After several drinks it was barely liftable, and would be a good candidate for breaking toes if you dropped it.
  • The 14-way divider keeps tall clubs and short clubs segmented, and an aluminum-plated, liftable compartment protects sunglasses and a cell phone while letting the cart strap slide underneath.
  • It also has a hydraulically powered winch with 60’ of cable and a liftable butt plate on the back and small dozer blade on the front.


Example sentences
  • Despite the inclusion of a number of respectable lifters in their squad, they were unable to match not only the technical expertise of the Oxford lifters, but also their cohesion and team spirit.
  • Two of those lifters competed in Athens after resurrecting their careers following a drug ban.
  • The Turkish lifters wanted to smoke in between lifts, but the American aides were under instructions that no one could smoke indoors.


Middle English: from Old Norse lypta, of Germanic origin; related to loft.

  • loft from Old English:

    In Old English loft meant ‘air, sky’ as well as what was up in the air, an upper room. It comes from Old Norse, and shares a Germanic root with lift (Old English). Sky (Middle English) was also a borrowing from Scandinavian and originally meant ‘cloud’. The word was applied to a shade of blue in the mid 17th century; the phrase out of a clear blue sky, for something as unexpected as rain or thunder out of such a sky, made its appearance towards the end of the 19th century; the sky's the limit dates from the 1920s. When Anglo-Saxons wanted to talk about the sky they could also use the word wolcen, welkin in modern English, but now only used in the expression to make the welkin ring.

Words that rhyme with lift

adrift, drift, gift, grift, rift, shift, shrift, sift, squiffed, swift, thrift, uplift

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: lift

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