Definition of pup in English:

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Pronunciation: /pʌp/


1A young dog.
Example sentences
  • Kate, who owns Parker, the youngest of the pups, has made the same mistake I made with Poppy when she was little - namely not understanding how much food you have to give them.
  • Among popular indigenous breeds such as the Rampur and the Mudhol hounds, the male pups are fancied, leaving only a few males to breed.
  • I thought of the prayer I had said when I asked God to help me get two hound pups.
1.1A young wolf, seal, rat, or other mammal.
Example sentences
  • In spring, the seals' breeding season, mother seals and their pups take refuge in agloos - little snow lairs atop the sea ice.
  • Leopard seals typically feed on penguins and the pups of other seal species but will eat ‘just about everything they come across,’ Rogers said.
  • In 1987 decades of protest culminated in a ban on the clubbing of white-furred harp seal pups in Canada.
1.2 dated A cheeky or arrogant boy or young man: you saucy young pup!
More example sentences
  • Regular readers will know the frustration I have felt at being beaten by this arrogant young pup on previous occasions.
  • The young pup railed against the ‘purist’ who apparently believe that profit is a dirty word and felt that making money somehow corrupted their ‘craft’.
  • Then a young pup of a deputy sports editor ordered me to leave the comfort of my sofa and actually go to Muirfield to experience the golf in the raw.

verb (pups, pupping, pupped)

[no object]
(Of bitches and certain other female animals) give birth to young: our Doberman just pupped (as adjective pupping) pupping females
More example sentences
  • Could these be the same birds that every year turn up hundreds of miles away along the desert coast just in time for the sea lion pupping season?
  • Bearded seals and walrus, feed in relatively shallow waters and rely on benthic prey associated with continental shelf areas and rely on annual sea ice for pupping.
  • We have assumed that a reduction in sea ice area is largely detrimental to icebreeding seals but it is conceivable that, similar to their more temperate relatives, they may move to landbased haul-outs, moulting, and pupping areas.



in pup

(Of a bitch) pregnant: a bitch in pup, due to whelp soon
More example sentences
  • In the case of a bitch she may turn out to be in pup and you will find yourself saddled with rather more dogs than you can manage.
  • Now that the reality of Millie being in pup has sunk in, we have been considering the possible combinations and permutations of potential litters.

the night's (only) a pup

Australian /NZ informal It is still early: the night’s only a pup, you have a few hours before you have to make any decisions
More example sentences
  • "The night's only a pup, Commodore," Bindle told him.
  • "Come on in and we'll have supper a little later; the night's only a pup yet," added Jack.
  • The night is only a pup; we have lots more time for drinking.

sell someone a pup

British informal Swindle someone by selling them something worthless: people don’t want to go into these places because they’re afraid they’ll be sold a pup
More example sentences
  • It is a difficult process, but it is possible to win compensation if you were sold a pup.
  • ‘If we had put them to the membership, they would have thought they had been sold a pup,’ he said.
  • The talk is that Ford was sold a pup when it bought the British brands - an accusation Dover dismisses.


Late 16th century (in the sense 'arrogant young man'): back-formation from puppy, interpreted as a diminutive.

  • The word pup is a shortening of puppy (Late Middle English), from Old French poupee ‘doll, plaything’, which is related to poppet (Late Middle English) and puppet (mid 16th century). To sell someone a pup is to swindle them, especially by selling them something that is worth far less than they expect. This dates from the early 20th century and was presumably based on the idea of dishonestly selling someone a young and inexperienced dog when they were expecting an older, trained animal.

Words that rhyme with pup

cup, grown-up, scup, straight-up, stuck-up, summing-up, sup, totting-up, two-up, up, washing-up

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pup

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