Put On

Meaning of Idiom ‘Put On’

1. To dress oneself in clothing, jewelry, or to place eyeglasses or contact lenses on one’s eyes, etc. 1Brenner, Gail Abel. Webster’s New World American Idioms Handbook]. Wiley, 2003.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Usage note: This meaning can apply to many items, such as cosmetics, or personal care products including deodorant, lotion, sunscreen, bandages, topical medication, lip balm, perfume, cologne, etc.

The opposite of to put on something is to take off something.

2. Apply or activate; to cause a piece of equipment, such as a radio or television, to work. Often, a specific program is referred to such as “it’s time to put on my soap operas.” 3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,4Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.

3. To pretend (to feel something), to assume an affectation. Often expressed as “put it on” as in ‘He’s not really that upset. He’s just putting it on” or put on a show as in ‘He puts on a good show but he’s doesn’t really care about any of us.’ 5Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,6Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.

See also put on airs.

4. To tease or mislead someone, expressed as put someone on. 7Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

5. Add something to something or to gain something (i..e. put something on your credit card or put on weight). 8Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,9Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.

6. To produce, organize or perform something, such as a show, play, etc. 10Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Examples Of Use

“I’ll need to put on my glasses to read this,” said the old man.

“I’ll be ready in a minute,” said Fred. “I just need to put on my tie.”

“You need to put on a sweater,” said Mom. “It’s chilly outside.”

“I don’t understand why she puts on so much makeup.”

“Remember to put on your sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go out in the sun.”

“I barely put the brakes on in time to avoid hitting someone today.”

“Can you please put on the ball game?” said the customer to the bartender.

“I can’t stand that bar. Every five minutes they put the blender on to make a frozen margarita. It’s so loud!”

“Maybe we should put on the radio while we work.”

“He puts on a brave exterior but he’s as frightened as the rest of us.”

“Are you really going to move to Los Angeles to become an actor?” asked Perry. “Of course not! I was just putting you on. Me become an actor?” replied Brandon.

“Charlie said that the new guy always buys everyone lunch,” said Joe. “Don’t listen to him. He’s putting you on,” said Jessie.

“They’re putting on a play at school. I think I’ll audition for a part.”

“They’re putting on a free concert in the park. Want to go?”

Origin

The earliest use of this idiom, as applied to clothing, dates from the mid-1400s. 11Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

More Idioms Starting with P

More Clothing Related Idioms

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Brenner, Gail Abel. Webster’s New World American Idioms Handbook]. Wiley, 2003.
2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
4, 6, 9. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.