1837, "act of bringing a horse or vehicle to a sudden stop," from the verbal phrase; see pull (v.) + up (adv.). To pull up is attested by early 14c. as "lift (someone or something)," late 14c. as "uproot." By 1887 as "a place for pulling up a vehicle." The noun, as a type of horizontal bar physical exercise involving pulling up the body by means of the arms, is attested by 1891.
The sense of "check a course of action" is from 1808, figurative of the lifting of the reins in horse-riding; pull (v.) in the sense of "check or hold back one's horse to keep it from winning" is by 1800.
c. 1300 (mid-13c. in surnames), "to move or try to move forcibly by pulling, to drag forcibly or with effort," from Old English pullian "to pluck off (wool), to draw out," a word of unknown origin, perhaps related to Low German pulen "remove the shell or husk," Frisian pûlje "to shell, husk," Middle Dutch polen "to peel, strip," Icelandic pula "work hard." Related: Pulled; pulling.
From early 14c. as "to pick, pull off, gather by hand" (fruit, flowers, berries, leaves, petals, etc.); mid-14c. as "to extract, uproot" (of teeth, weeds, etc.).
Sense of "to draw (to oneself), attract" is from c. 1400; sense of "to pluck at with the fingers" is from c. 1400; meaning "tear to pieces" is mid-15c. By late 16c. it had replaced draw (v.) in these senses. From mid-14c. as "to deprive (someone of something)."
Common in slang terms 19c.-20c.; Bartlett (1859) has to pull foot "walk fast; run;" pull it "to run." To pull (someone's) chain in the figurative sense is from 1974, perhaps on the notion of a captive animal; the expression was also used for "to contact" (someone), on the notion of the chain that operates a signaling mechanism. To pull (someone's) leg is from 1882, perhaps on notion of "playfully tripping" (compare pull the long bow "exaggerate," 1830, and pulling someone's leg also sometimes was described as a way to awaken a sleeping person in a railway compartment, ship's berth, etc.). Thornton's "American Glossary" (1912) has pull (n.) "a jest" (to have a pull at (someone)), which it identifies as "local" and illustrates with an example from the Massachusetts Spy of May 21, 1817, which identifies it as "a Georgian phrase."
To pull (one's) punches is from 1920 in pugilism, from 1921 figuratively. To pull in "arrive" (1892) and pull out "depart" (1868) are from the railroads. To pull for someone or something, "exert influence or root for" is by 1903.
To pull (something) off "accomplish, succeed at" is originally in sporting, "to win the prize money" (1870). To pull (something) on (someone) is from 1916; to pull (something) out of one's ass is Army slang from 1970s. To pull rank is from 1919; to pull the rug from under (someone) figuratively is from 1946.
c. 1300, pul, "a fishing net;" mid-14c., "a turn at pulling," from pull (v.). From late 14c. as "an act of pulling." From mid-14c. as "a short space of time." By 1570s as "a drink, a swig of liquor."
Meaning "personal or private influence, advantageous claim to one who has influence" is by 1889, American English, from earlier sense "power to pull (and not be pulled by)" a rival or competitor (1580s).
Middle English short, from Old English sceort, scort "of little length; not tall; of brief duration," probably from Proto-Germanic *skurta- (source also of Old Norse skorta "to be short of," skort "shortness;" Old High German scurz "short"), from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut," on the notion of "something cut off."
Compare Sanskrit krdhuh "shortened, maimed, small;" Latin curtus "short," cordus "late-born," originally "stunted in growth;" Old Church Slavonic kratuku, Russian korotkij "short;" Lithuanian skursti "to be stunted," skardus "steep;" Old Irish cert "small," Middle Irish corr "stunted, dwarfish," all considered to be from the same root.
Of memories from mid-14c. The sense of "not up to a required standard or amount" is from late 14c.; that of "not far enough to reach the mark" is by 1540s, in archery; that of "having an insufficient quantity" is from 1690s. The meaning "rude, curt, abrupt" is attested from late 14c. The meaning "easily provoked" is from 1590s; perhaps the notion is of being "not long in tolerating."
Of vowels or syllables, "not prolonged in utterance," late Old English. Of alcoholic drinks, colloquially, "unmixed with water, undiluted," by 1839, so called because served in small measure.
Short rib "asternal rib, one of the lower ribs," which are in general shorter than the upper ones, is from c. 1400. Short fuse in the figurative sense of "quick temper" is attested by 1951. Short run "relatively brief period of time" is from 1879. Short story for "work of prose fiction shorter than a novel" is recorded by 1877. To make short work of "dispose of quickly" is attested from 1570s. Phrase short and sweet is from 1530s. To be short by the knees (1733) was to be kneeling; to be short by the head (1540s) was to be beheaded.
1580s, the short "the result, the total," from short (adj.). The meaning "electrical short circuit" is by 1906 (see short circuit). The meaning "contraction of a name or phrase" is by 1845 (in for short). The general sense of "whatever is deficient in number, quality, etc." is by 1868.
By 1823 as "a short drink." The slang meaning "car" is attested from 1897; originally "street car," so called because street cars (or the rides taken in them) were "shorter" than railroad cars. By 1929 as "a short film."
c. 1300, from short (adj.). To fall short is from archery. To cut (something) short is by 1590s. To sell short "sell what the seller does not at the time possess" is by 1852.
Old English sceortian "to grow short, become short; run short, fail," from the source of short (adj.). Transitive meaning "make short or shorter" is from late 12c. Meaning "to short-circuit" is by 1904. Related: Shorted; shorting.
"that which is up," 1530s, from up (adv.). Phrase on the up-(and-up) "honest, straightforward" first attested 1863, American English.
Old English up, uppe, from Proto-Germanic *upp- "up" (source also of Old Frisian, Old Saxon up "up, upward," Old Norse upp; Danish, Dutch op; Old High German uf, German auf "up"; Gothic iup "up, upward," uf "on, upon, under;" Old High German oba, German ob "over, above, on, upon"), from PIE root *upo "under," also "up from under," hence also "over."
As a preposition, "to a higher place" from c. 1500; also "along, through" (1510s), "toward" (1590s). Often used elliptically for go up, come up, rise up, etc. Up the river "in jail" first recorded 1891, originally in reference to Sing Sing, which is up the Hudson from New York City. To drive someone up the wall (1951) is from the notion of the behavior of lunatics or caged animals. Insulting retort up yours (scil. ass) is attested by late 19c.
prefix with various senses, from Old English up (adv.), corresponding to similar prefixes in other Germanic languages.