Because I am a Turk, sometimes I cannot understand the usage of some verbs. I faced two sentences in which the verb "pick up" is used.

  1. You have to pick yourself up.
  2. You are going to pick your miserable self up and help us

What is the meaning of the verb pick up? I guess that it's meaning is to get better, to improve?

  • A good dictionary of English idioms should help. For example Pick oneself up. Unfortunately "pick up" has many meanings which vary with context, so in many cases you have to guess. But I'm sure there are many Turkish idioms that make no sense to me. For example Taş attı da kolu mu yoruldu? which I guess might be roughly equivalent to He should pick his lazy self up, as if he was lying on the ground resting instead of working.
    – Andrew
    Feb 8, 2018 at 20:25
  • You might find this interesting reading: When should I accept my answer?.
    – J.R.
    Feb 8, 2018 at 21:27

1 Answer 1


It is a metaphorical use of the verb "pick up" in its simplest sense of lifting something off the ground. Your sentences mean that this person has become passive and/or disorganized, sort of like a useless rag that is lying on the ground. So, yes, in a way, "pick yourself up" means "improve your game", "become active again", "work better". Another phrase that is used in these situations is "get your act together".

  • I think your assertion that the person is "passive, disorganized .. like a useless rag on the ground" might be a little too harsh. Oftentimes, "pick yourself up" refers to emotions; perhaps the person is just feeling a little down. I think the OP's second sentence sounds like the person is lazy, but the first one could be a little bit of depression. It could also be applied to some kind of misfortune, like someone who has recently lost a job. I like the way Cambridge says it: to make improvements to your life after a bad period.
    – J.R.
    Feb 8, 2018 at 21:30
  • @J.R. My intention was not to be harsh to anyone. I wasn't in any way harsher than "your miserable self" in the second sentence, which, by the way, shows me that these words were not addressed to OP—he just read them somewhere, so there was really no real person anywhere in the picture that could be insulted—just an abstract one. And for an abstract one, I used some exaggeration to paint a more expressive picture of the meaning.
    – user68912
    Feb 8, 2018 at 22:39
  • I don’t think you were harsh to anyone, but I think your interpretation of the phrase is a little bit off. In particular, I don’t think "You have to pick yourself up” means "this person has become passive and/or disorganized, sort of like a useless rag that is lying on the ground,” as your answer suggests.
    – J.R.
    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:43
  • @J.R. I'm describing one of the possible situations that might cause someone else to say these words to the person in question. I have said that I exaggerated a bit. I have done so consciosly. I'm pretty sure my interpretation is not off. I've deleted my answers in the past when I realized they were off. I really think this is a matter of general outlook in life that causes a difference between your interpretation and mine in this case.
    – user68912
    Feb 9, 2018 at 15:49

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