I have a question about "pick up" here:

My voice startled me with its sudden loudness. I must have picked up the whispering unconsciously from my visitor.

Does "picked up the whispering" mean something closer to "pick up information" or "pick up a chant"?


"Picked up" in this instance means "acquired".

The character is suggesting that they, unconsciously, started whispering in response to their visitor's behaviour.

  • So, the example is closer to "pick up the chant". – meatie Oct 15 '14 at 21:07
  • I don't know that phrase. I think a more common example would be to use "pick up" some disease. "I picked up a cold by staying out too long". There's a certain element of the acquisition being unintentional. – Dancrumb Oct 15 '14 at 22:07

In this case "picked up" means something like "noticed"

  • 2
    Not true, in this case. Given the limited context, it may have been hard to discern, but if you open OP's link you'll see that Dancrumb's analysis is correct. – nmar Oct 15 '14 at 20:12
  • I agree with @nmar , your definition fails to highlight the accidental emphasis on the acquisition of the whispers in the first place. – Tushar Oct 16 '14 at 9:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.