I have come across it in Crash Course World History. It is at 7 minute and 37 second. Here it goes:

Without adequate water supplies for irrigation, the cities could not sustain themselves, so people literally just picked up and left for greener pastures.

It seems to me that pick up means to pack one's belongings there, but I am confused because the Machmillan and Longman dictionaries do not give this definition. Is that some non-standard use of pick up?

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  • @userr2684291 You should answer this question. It's interesting to note that "pick up and leave" is an idiom.
    – RubioRic
    May 2, 2018 at 12:16
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    @RubioRic I'm afraid I have nothing else to add.
    – user3395
    May 2, 2018 at 12:56

1 Answer 1


To pick up in the collocation to pick up and leave might have referred to boarding a vehicle in its earliest uses.

They picked up the stagecoach and headed west.

We can pick up a train in Chicago that will take us to San Francisco.

But nowadays when people use the phrase it means to "pack up", to gather one's things, or people don't even think about what that constituent means. The phrase as a whole means 'to depart abruptly'.

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    Sometimes the expression is used without the "pick". Example: "After being insulted, my friend just up and left the party." May 2, 2018 at 17:45
  • I've also heard My car just up and died on me.
    – TimR
    May 2, 2018 at 22:13

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