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 ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.