to use your hands to make something or someone move towards you or in the direction that your hands are moving [≠ push]:
move something towards you[intransitive and transitive]
Mom! Davey's pulling my hair!
pull somebody/something into/away from/over etc something
He pulled her down into her seat.
pull something open/shut
She pulled open the door and hurried inside.
to use force to take something from the place where it is fixed or held:
She has to have two teeth pulled.
pull something out/off/away etc
Vicky had pulled the arm off her doll.
to be attached to something or hold something and make it move behind you in the direction you are going:
make something follow you[transitive]
a tractor pulling a trailer
to take something out of a bag, pocket etc with your hand:
take something out[transitive always + adverb/preposition]
He pulled out his wallet and said 'let me pay'.
Ben pulled a pen from his pocket.
pull a gun/knife (on somebody) (=take one out, ready to use it)
to put on or take off a piece of clothing, usually quickly
clothing[transitive always + adverb/preposition]
pull on/off/up/down etc
He pulled off his damp shirt.
move your body
a) [intransitive,transitive always + adverb/preposition]
to move your body or part of your body away from someone or something
pull something away/free
She tried to pull her hand free, but it was held fast.
pull something out of/from something
She struggled fiercely, trying to pull her arm out of his grasp.
She pulled away from him.
to hold onto something and use your strength to move your body towards it:
Benny pulled himself up from the floor with difficulty.
to injure one of your muscles by stretching it too much during physical activity [= strain]:
Paul pulled a muscle trying to lift the freezer.
to secretly use your influence with important people in order to get what you want or to help someone else:
Francis pulled strings to get him out of trouble.
to control something or someone, especially when you are not the person who is supposed to be controlling them:
It was widely believed that Montagu was secretly pulling the strings behind the prime minister.
to succeed in doing something illegal or dishonest or in playing a trick on someone:
The gang have pulled another bank robbery.
He was trying to pull a fast one (=deceive you) when he told you he'd paid.
pull a stunt/trick/joke
Don't you ever pull a stunt like that again!
to tell someone something that is not true, as a joke:
I haven't won, have I? You're pulling my leg.
12 British English spoken
used to tell someone that you think they are joking or not telling the truth:
Your dad's a racing driver? Pull the other one!
to move a control such as a switch, lever, or trigger towards you to make a piece of equipment work:
She raised the gun, and pulled the trigger.
to open or close curtains or blinds:
It was already getting dark so he pulled the curtains.
if an event, performer etc pulls crowds or a politician pulls a lot of votes, a lot of people come to see them or vote for them:
Muhammad Ali can still pull the crowds.
to attract or influence someone or their thoughts or feelings:
The city's reputation for a clean environment has pulled new residents from other states.
to attract someone in order to have sex with them or spend the evening with them:
sexually attract[intransitive and transitive] British English spoken
He knew he could pull any girl he wanted.
to stop a planned event from taking place:
They pulled the concert.
to take away someone's licence to do something, especially to drive a car, because they have done something wrong
to drive a vehicle somewhere and stop; to stop somewhere
stop a vehicle[intransitive and transitive]
pull something into/towards/down etc something
She pulled the car into a side street.
The bus pulled to a halt.
if a car pulls to the left or right as you are driving, it moves in that direction because of a problem with its machinery
used to say that it is very difficult or unpleasant to persuade someone to do something:
Getting him to do his homework is like pulling teeth.
to get beer out of a barrel by pulling a handle:
beer[transitive] British EnglishDF
The barman laughed and began to pull a couple of pints.
to deliberately hit someone with less force than you could do, so that it hurts less
➔ not pull any punchesat punch2 (6)
to hit the ball in cricket, golf, or baseball so that it does not go straight but moves to one side
cricket/golf/baseball[intransitive and transitive]DS
to make a boat move by using oars
row a boat[intransitive and transitive]TTWTTW
➔ pull/make a faceat face1 (2)
; ➔ pull your finger outat finger1 (12)
; ➔ pull rank (on somebody)at rank1 (5)
; ➔ pull the rug (out) from under somebody's feetat rug (3)
; ➔ pull the plug (on something)at plug1 (5)
➔ pull your socks upat sock1 (3)
➔ pull your weightat weight1 (12)
➔ pull the wool over somebody's eyesat wool (4)
pull aheadphrasal verb
if one vehicle pulls ahead of another, it gets in front of it by moving faster:
Schumacher pulled ahead of Montoya as the two drivers approached the first corner of the race.
pull apartphrasal verb
to separate something into pieces:
Pull the meat apart with two forks.
to make the relationships between people in a group bad or difficult:
His drinking pulled the family apart.
to carefully examine or criticize something:
pull something ↔ apart
The selection committee pulled each proposal apart.
to separate people or animals when they are fighting:
The fight ended only when the referee pulled the two players apart.
if something pulls apart, it breaks into pieces when you pull on it
pull at/on somethingphrasal verb
to take hold of something and pull it several times:
Mary was pulling nervously at her hair.
to take smoke from a pipe or cigarette into your lungs:
He pulled hard on the cigarette.
to take a long drink from a bottle or glass
pull awayphrasal verb
to start to drive away from a place where you had stopped:
He waved as he pulled away.
to move ahead of a competitor by going faster or being more successful
pull away from
Nkoku is pulling away from the other runners.
pull backphrasal verb
to decide not to do or become involved in something
pull back from
In the end, he pulled back from financing the film.
to get out of a bad situation or dangerous place, or to make someone else do this
pull back from
Many banks are pulling back from international markets.
pull somebody ↔ back
They are preparing to pull back their forces.
3 British English
if a team that is losing pulls back a goal or some points, it succeeds in scoring a goal or some points:
Our play improved and we pulled back two goals.
pull downphrasal verb
to destroy something or make it stop existing:
My old school was pulled down.
to earn a particular amount of money:
Real estate stocks pulled down total returns of 35.7 percent.
to make someone less successful, happy, or healthy:
Her problems have really pulled her down.
to make a computer program show you a list of the things it can do
pull for somebody/somethingphrasal verb
to encourage a person or team to succeed:
The crowd were pulling for me to do well.
pull inphrasal verb
if a driver pulls in, they move to the side of the road and stop:
She pulled in to let the ambulance pass.
if a train pulls in, it arrives at a station [≠ pull out]
to attract business, money, people etc:
a publicity stunt to pull in the crowds
if you pull in a lot of money, you earn it
if a police officer pulls someone in, they take them to a police station because they think that person may have done something wrong
pull offphrasal verb
to succeed in doing something difficult:
The goalkeeper pulled off six terrific saves.
to drive a car off a road in order to stop, or to turn into a smaller road:
We pulled off the road to get some food.
pull on somethingphrasal verb
pull outphrasal verb
to drive onto a road from another road or from where you have stopped:
Don't pull out! There's something coming.
to drive over to a different part of the road in order to get past a vehicle in front of you:
I pulled out to overtake a bus.
if a train pulls out, it leaves a station [≠ pull in]
to stop doing or being involved in something, or to make someone do this:
McDermott pulled out with an injury at the last minute.
pull out of
They are trying to pull out of the agreement.
pull somebody out of something
He threatened to pull his son out of the team.
to get out of a bad situation or dangerous place, or to make someone or something do this:
Jim saw that the firm was going to be ruined, so he pulled out.
pull somebody/something ↔ out
Most of the troops have been pulled out.
pull out of
when the country was still pulling out of a recession
➔ pull out all the stopsat stop2 (7)
pull overphrasal verb
to drive to the side of the road and stop your car, or to make someone else do this:
The policeman signalled to him to pull over.
pull somebody/something ↔ over
He pulled the car over.
A cop pulled him over and gave him a speeding ticket.
pull (somebody) throughphrasal verb
to stay alive after you have been very ill or badly injured, or to help someone do this:
His injuries are severe but he's expected to pull through.
➔ bring (somebody) throughat bring
to succeed in doing something very difficult, or to help someone to do this:
He relied on his experience to pull him through.
pull togetherphrasal verb
if a group of people pull together, they all work hard to achieve something:
If we all pull together, we'll finish on time.
to force yourself to stop behaving in a nervous, frightened, or uncontrolled way:
With an effort Mary pulled herself together.
to improve something by organizing it more effectively:
We need an experienced manager to pull the department together.
pull upphrasal verb
to stop the vehicle that you are driving:
He pulled up in front of the gates.
to get a chair, etc and sit down next to someone who is already sitting