Definition of lift in English:

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Pronunciation: /lɪft/


1 [with object] Raise 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, uplift, heft, boost, raise up/aloft, upraise, elevate, thrust, hold high, bear aloft;
pick up, grab, take up, scoop up, gather up, snatch up;
winch up, jack up, lever up;
carry, manhandle
informal hump
rare upheave
improve, boost, enhance, make better, invigorate, revitalize, upgrade, ameliorate
1.1Move (one’s eyes or face) to face upwards and look at someone or something: he lifted his eyes 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.
1.2 [no object] Move upwards; be raised: Thomas’s eyelids drowsily lifted
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.
1.3 [no object] (Of a cloud, fog, etc.) move upwards or away: the factory smoke hung low, never lifted
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, be dispelled, thin out, scatter
1.4Increase the volume of (one’s voice): she lifted her voice in a great shout 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, louden, increase
1.5Increase (a price or amount): the building society lifted its interest rates by 0.75 of a point
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.
1.6Perform cosmetic surgery on (part of the body) 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.
1.7Dig up (plants or root vegetables): the end of September is the time to lift and store carrots
More example sentences
  • In most parts of the country, plants grown from tubers, as well as plants that have been lifted and stored over winter, should be started indoors.
  • Tender bulbs can be either treated as annuals and composted or tossed out, or they can be lifted and stored.
  • Farmers can now produce two crops of new potatoes, by re-planting when they lift the first crop.
dig up, pick, pull up, dig out of the ground, root out, unearth, take up
2 [with object and adverbial of direction] Pick 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.
2.1Transport by air: a helicopter lifted 11 crew 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.
airlift, transport by air, transport, move, transfer, fly, convey, shift
2.2Enable (someone or something) to escape from an unpleasant situation: the best way to lift nations out of poverty is through trade
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.
2.3Improve the rank or position of (a person or team): this victory lifted United into third place
More example sentences
  • It is Woods' fourth Masters title and his ninth Major Championship victory, and the win lifts him back to number one in the world.
  • It lifted him into third place, nine shots off the pace.
  • He is considered a mid - to late-round pick at this point, but a strong postseason could lift him to as high as the third round.
3 [with object] Raise (a person’s spirits or confidence): we heard inspiring talks which 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, give a lift to, cheer up, perk up, enliven, uplift, brighten up, lighten, ginger up, gladden, encourage, stimulate, arouse, revive, restore
informal buck up, jazz 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.
4 [with object] Formally 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, raise, remove, withdraw, revoke, rescind, annul, void, discontinue, countermand, relax, end, stop, terminate
5 [with object] Carry off or win (a prize or event): she staged a magnificent comeback to lift the British Open title
More example sentences
  • He made up for a series of near misses by lifting the main event at Openshaw Park in Bury.
  • They put the icing on the cake by lifting their first prize since 1996.
  • They scored the vital goals to help Albion lift the trophy in front of about 2,000 people.
5.1Use (a person’s work or ideas) without permission or acknowledgement: 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, borrow
informal crib, rip off, nick, pinch
5.2 informal Steal (something): 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.
5.3 informal Arrest (someone): that night the army came and lifted Buckley


1British A platform or compartment housed in a shaft for raising and lowering people or things to different levels: Alice went up to the second floor in the lift [as modifier]: the lift door opened
More example sentences
  • When the lift doors open, they emerge in futuristic silver outfits and take their places at the control deck.
  • Being the nice, considerate girl I am, I opened the lift door for him to come in, when it was already almost 90% closed.
  • The lift door opened immediately and we entered.
elevator, hoist;
paternoster (lift);
dumb waiter
1.1A device incorporating a moving cable for carrying people up or down a mountain: we zigzagged across the mountain from one lift to the next
More 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.
1.2A 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, hoist, heave, thrust, shove, uplift, a helping hand
2.1 [mass noun] Upward force exerted by the air on an aerofoil or other structure, counteracting gravity: separate engines 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.
2.2The maximum weight that an aircraft can raise: the Puma tactical transport helicopter has a total lift of up to 5,500 lb
More 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.
2.3 [mass noun] Cricket The tendency of a ball bowled to rise sharply on bouncing.
Example sentences
  • The left-arm fast bowler, extracting much lift, bowled with hostility to contain the batsmen.
  • However, eight balls later, a little extra lift from Zoysa was enough to snare India's maestro, the ball brushing his glove on the way through to Kaluwitharana.
  • He was a tall man standing at 6ft and when bowling he used his height well, getting lift and speed off the pitch.
2.4A rise in price, level, or amount: the company has already produced a 10 per cent 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.
2.5 informal An instance of stealing or plagiarizing something: in a speech he adopted the President’s familiar hand motions—it was a lift
3A free ride in another person’s vehicle: Miss Green is giving me a lift 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.
car ride, ride, run, drive, transportation, journey
informal hitch
4 [in singular] A feeling of confidence or cheerfulness: winning this match has given everyone 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, pick-me-up, stimulus, impetus, encouragement, spur, reassurance, aid, help, push;
improvement, enhancement, upgrading, amelioration
informal shot in the arm



lift a finger (or hand)

[usually with negative] Make the slightest effort to do something, especially to help someone: he never 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) take off, especially vertically: the helicopters lifted off at 1030 hours
More example sentences
  • As the aircraft lifts off, put in a slow, steady, forward elevator pressure - just enough to keep it from climbing, but not so much that you descend back onto the runway.
  • As night approached, four CH - 46 Sea Knight helicopters lifted off the Roosevelt's deck.
  • Then - the mission complete - the helicopters lifted off, turning for the border and safety.
take off, be launched, blast off, leave the ground, become airborne, take to the air, take wing



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

Line breaks: lift

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