v. built (bĭlt), build·ing, builds
1. To form by combining materials or parts; construct.
2. To order, finance, or supervise the construction of: The administration built several new housing projects.
3. To develop or give form to according to a plan or process; create: build a nation; built a successful business out of their corner grocery store.
4. To increase or strengthen by adding gradually to: money building interest in a savings account; build support for a political candidate.
5. To establish a basis for; found or ground: build an argument on fact.
1. To make something by combining materials or parts.
2. To engage in the construction or design of buildings: "Each of the three architects built in a different style" (Dwight Macdonald).
3. To develop in magnitude or extent: clouds building on the horizon.
4. To progress toward a maximum, as of intensity: suspense building from the opening scene to the climax.
1. The physical makeup of a person or thing, especially one's physique: an athletic build.
2. Computers Any of various versions of a software product as it is being developed for release to users.
To reduce or diminish, especially in a systematic numerical fashion: build down the armed forces in peace time.
build in (or into)
To construct or include as an integral part of: a wall with shelving that was built in; build stability into the economy.
build on (or upon)
To use as a basis or foundation: We must build on our recent success.
To develop all the land available in (an area, such as a municipality).
1. To develop or increase in stages or by degrees: built up the business; building up my endurance for the marathon.
2. To accumulate or collect: sediment building up on the ocean floor.
3. To bolster: build up the product with a massive ad campaign; built up my hopes after the interview.
4. To fill up (an area) with buildings.
build on sand
To provide with an unstable foundation: Having bought only high-risk stocks, my portfolio was built on sand.
[Middle English bilden, from Old English byldan; see bheuə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.