Definition of pull verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//pʊl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pʊl//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they pull
    BrE BrE//pʊl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pʊl//
    he / she / it pulls
    BrE BrE//pʊlz//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pʊlz//
    past simple pulled
    BrE BrE//pʊld//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pʊld//
    past participle pulled
    BrE BrE//pʊld//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pʊld//
    -ing form pulling
    BrE BrE//ˈpʊlɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈpʊlɪŋ//
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    move/remove something
  1. 1  [intransitive, transitive] to hold something firmly and use force in order to move it or try to move it towards yourself You push and I'll pull. Don't pull so hard or the handle will come off. pull at/on something I pulled on the rope to see if it was secure. pull something Stop pulling her hair! pull somebody/something + adv./prep. She pulled him gently towards her. pull something + adj. Pull the door shut.
  2. 2  [transitive] pull something (+ adv./prep.) to remove something from a place by pulling Pull the plug out. She pulled off her boots. He pulled a gun on me (= took out a gun and aimed it at me).
  3. 3  [transitive] pull somebody/something + adv./prep. to move somebody/something in a particular direction by pulling Pull your chair nearer the table. He pulled on his sweater. She took his arm and pulled him along.
  4. 4  [transitive] pull something to hold or be attached to something and move it along behind you In this area oxen are used to pull carts. Synonymspulldrag draw haul tow tugThese words all mean to move something in a particular direction, especially towards or behind you.pull to hold something and move it in a particular direction; to hold or be attached to a vehicle and move it along behind you:Pull the chair nearer the table. They use oxen to pull their carts.drag to pull somebody/​something in a particular direction or behind you, usually along the ground, and especially with effort:The sack is too heavy to lift—you’ll have to drag it.draw (formal) to move somebody/​something by pulling them/​it gently; to pull a vehicle such as a carriage:I drew my chair closer to the fire. a horse-drawn carriagehaul to pull somebody/​something to a particular place with a lot of effort:Fishermen were hauling in their nets.drag or haul?You usually drag something behind you along the ground; you usually haul something towards you, often upwards towards you. Dragging something often needs effort, but hauling something always does. tow to pull a car, boat or light plane behind another vehicle, using a rope or chain:Our car was towed away by the police.tug to pull somebody/​something hard in a particular direction:She tried to escape but he tugged her back.Patterns to pull/​drag/​draw/​haul/​tow/​tug somebody/​something along/​down/​towards something to pull/​drag/​draw/​haul/​tow somebody/​something behind you to pull/​drag/​draw/​haul a cart/​sledge to pull/​draw a coach/​carriage to pull/​haul/​tow a truck horses pull/​draw/​haul something dogs pull/​drag/​haul something
  5. body
  6. 5  [intransitive, transitive] to move your body or a part of your body in a particular direction, especially using force + adv./prep. He tried to kiss her but she pulled away. pull something/yourself + adv./prep. The dog snapped at her and she quickly pulled back her hand. pull something/yourself + adj. John pulled himself free and ran off.
  7. curtains
  8. 6  [transitive] pull something to open or close curtains, etc. synonym draw Pull the curtains—it's dark outside.
  9. muscle
  10. 7  [transitive] pull something to damage a muscle, etc. by using too much force to pull a muscle/ligament/tendon Synonymsinjurewound hurt bruise sprain pull strainThese words all mean to harm yourself or somebody else physically, especially in an accident.injure to harm yourself or somebody else physically, especially in an accident:He injured his knee playing hockey. Three people were injured in the crash.wound [often passive] (rather formal) to injure part of the body, especially by making a hole in the skin using a weapon:50 people were seriously wounded in the attack. Wound is often used to talk about people being hurt in war or in other attacks which affect a lot of people.hurt to cause physical pain to somebody/​yourself; to injure somebody/​yourself:Did you hurt yourself?injure or hurt?You can hurt or injure a part of the body in an accident. Hurt emphasizes the physical pain caused; injure emphasizes that the part of the body has been damaged in some way.bruise to make a blue, brown or purple mark (= a bruise) appear on the skin after somebody has fallen or been hit; to develop a bruisesprain to injure part of your body, especially your ankle, wrist or knee, by suddenly bending it in an awkward way, causing pain and swellingpull to damage a muscle, etc, by using too much forcestrain to injure yourself or part of your body by making it work too hard:Don’t strain your eyes by reading in poor light.Patterns to injure/​hurt/​strain yourself to injure/​hurt/​sprain/​pull/​strain a muscle to injure/​hurt/​sprain your ankle/​foot/​knee/​wrist/​hand to injure/​hurt/​strain your back/​shoulder/​eyes to injure/​hurt your spine/​neck to be badly/​severely/​slightly injured/​wounded/​hurt/​bruised/​sprained See related entries: Injuries
  11. switch
  12. 8  [transitive] pull something to move a switch, etc. towards yourself or down in order to operate a machine or piece of equipment Pull the lever to start the motor. Don't pull the trigger!
  13. vehicle/engine
  14. 9[intransitive, transitive] pull (something) to the right/the left/one side to move or make a vehicle move sideways The wheel is pulling to the left. She pulled the car to the right to avoid the dog.
  15. 10[intransitive] (of an engine) to work hard and use a lot of power The old car pulled hard as we drove slowly up the hill.
  16. boat
  17. 11[intransitive, transitive] pull (something) (+ adv./prep.) to use oars to move a boat along They pulled towards the shore.
  18. crowd/support
  19. 12[transitive] pull somebody/something (in) to attract the interest or support of somebody/something They pulled in huge crowds on their latest tour.
  20. attract sexually
  21. 13[transitive, intransitive] pull (somebody) (British English, informal) to attract somebody sexually He can still pull the girls. She's hoping to pull tonight.
  22. trick/crime
  23. 14[transitive] pull something (informal) to succeed in playing a trick on somebody, committing a crime, etc. He's pulling some sort of trick on you.
  24. cancel
  25. 15[transitive] pull something (informal) to cancel an event; to stop showing an advertisement, etc. The gig was pulled at the last moment.
  26. Word OriginOld English pullian ‘pluck, snatch’; origin uncertain; the sense has developed from expressing a short sharp action to one of sustained force.Extra examples He got hold of the rope and pulled hard. He pulled at her coat sleeve. He pulled his sweater on. He tried to pull away. John finally managed to pull himself free. She pulled on the lever. The dog snapped at her and she pulled back her hand. Alison pulled the little dog out of the water. Don’t pull so hard or you’ll break it. He keeps pulling my hair! He pulled a muscle in his back. I pulled the letter out of my pocket. I quickly pulled on my sweater. Mary pulled the blanket up over her head. Ponies were used to pull the coal trucks. Pull out the plug. Pull the chair nearer to the table. She has pulled her Achilles tendon. She pulled the curtain shut and switched on the light. She’s hoping to pull tonight. The man pulled a gun/​knife on him. They use oxen to pull their carts. You push and I’ll pull. You’ll pull the handle right off if you tug so hard.Idioms
    draw/pull your horns in
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    to start being more careful in your behaviour, especially by spending less money than before Small businesses have had to pull their horns in during the recession.
    pick/pull/tear somebody/something to pieces/shreds
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    (informal) to criticize somebody, or their work or ideas, very severely
    pick/pull/tear somebody/something to pieces/shreds
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    (informal) to criticize somebody, or their work or ideas, very severely
    pull/make faces/a face (at somebody)
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     to produce an expression on your face to show that you do not like somebody/something or in order to make somebody laugh What are you pulling a face at now? Do you think it’s funny to make faces behind my back? See related entries: Facial expressions
    pull a fast one (on somebody)
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    (slang) to trick somebody See related entries: Dishonest
    pull in different/opposite directions
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    to have different aims that cannot be achieved together without causing problems
    (informal) to play a joke on somebody, usually by making them believe something that is not true
    pull the other one (—it’s got bells on)
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    (British English, informal) used to show that you do not believe what somebody has just said
    (informal) to make the greatest effort possible to achieve something
    pull the plug on somebody/something
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    (informal) to put an end to somebody’s project, a plan, etc. The television company pulled the plug on the series after only five episodes. See related entries: Business deals
    (informal) (usually used in negative sentences) to express something less strongly than you are able to, for example to avoid upsetting or shocking somebody Her articles certainly don't pull any punches.
    pull something/a rabbit out of the hat
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    (informal) to suddenly produce something as a solution to a problem
    pull rank (on somebody)
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    to make use of your place or status in society or at work to make somebody do what you want
    pull the rug (out) from under somebody’s feet
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    (informal) to take help or support away from somebody suddenly
    (British English, informal) to try to improve your performance, work, behaviour, etc. You're going to have to pull your socks up.
    pull strings (for somebody) (North American English also pull wires)
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    (informal) to use your influence in order to get an advantage for somebody
    to control events or the actions of other people
    pull up stakes (North American English) (British English up sticks)
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    to suddenly move from your house and go to live somewhere else
    to work as hard as everyone else in a job, an activity, etc.
    pull the wool over somebody’s eyes
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    (informal) to try to trick somebody; to hide your real actions or intentions from somebody
    pull/drag yourself up by your (own) bootstraps
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    (informal) to improve your situation yourself, without help from other people
    Phrasal Verbspull aheadpull somebody apartpull something apartpull at somethingpull at somethingpull away (from something)pull backpull somebodybackpull backpull somebody downpull somethingdownpull down somethingpull somebodyinpull in (to something)pull offpull somethingoffpull outpull out (of something)pull somebody outpull overpull over somebodypull throughpull somebody throughpull togetherpull uppull somebody uppull yourself together
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: pull