I have an online purchase to return to the store for some reason. I received an email from the staff working in the company saying that

Attached is a copy of your return invoice. The store should be able to pull this up and process.

I have never seen the usage of pull up like this, I guess it's meaning deal with and handle here, but I can't find such definition in dictionaries. Is this a legitimate and common usage of the phrase pull up?

  • 1
    It means "retrieve the record". Picture someone pulling the paper invoice up from out of a file folder in a filing cabinet. Today it's used metaphorically for computer records, too.
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 14, 2016 at 15:06
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    it means the store should be able to use the information on the invoice to "pull the information up from the database" and then deal with it. Pull it up is used as a synonym for retrieve. In some store –particularly those using legacy programs–a major difficulty is to retrieve an individual transaction from the records.
    – P. O.
    Oct 14, 2016 at 15:08
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    @DanBron I always understood the preposition "up" to imply "onto the screen" of a computer or terminal. I would find it odd if someone who was actually working with paper records in a file drawer would speak of "pulling up a record."
    – phoog
    Oct 14, 2016 at 15:14
  • @phoog dan explained where the metaphor came from originally, nearly all the vocabulary from software come from real concrete usage in the early corporate office world (such a cut/copy/paste, record, time stamp, and "pull a record" they were all physical actions before becoming virtual)
    – P. O.
    Oct 14, 2016 at 16:00
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    Yes, originally it referred to pulling a ledger card or file folder out of a filing cabinet.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 14, 2016 at 19:51

2 Answers 2


Yes, this is common usage, at least in American English.

The definition for pull up something gives this definition:

to get information, esp. on a computer screen:
Click on a square to pull up an overview of the site with name, description, location, and domain.

Cambridge Dictionary


This is a very common use of the phrase, which in this context refers to retrieving the [return invoice]. One typically "pulls up" records from a database, but it can refer to any information/documentation from any source.

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