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I'm reading a book about makeup, aesthetics, the concept of beauty, etc. One of the author's interviewees said,

That notion of beauty as a strength and putting yourself together well as a self- confidence builder, it stuck with me.

For the phrase "putting yourself together," I can see that it doesn't mean controlling your emotions to deal with a situation. So, I did some research and found that "to put oneself together" can mean making one look nice, maybe by dressing up or using makeup, which fits the context of the sentence above.

However, during my research, I also found that:

  1. Many people believe the two phrases "to put oneself together" and "to pull oneself together" are actually the same.
  2. Many have never heard of the phrase "to put oneself together".

I would just really like to know, for you language aficionados, what is the correct definition of the two phrases? If you were to publish a book or article or anything serious, what is the best way to use each phrase?

Thanks!

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  • Where did you find (1) and (2)?
    – alphabet
    Commented Feb 3 at 3:21
  • "Pull yourself together" is very common, and it is easy to find a good definition using Google. "Put yourself together" is less common, and many searches will redirect you to "pull". However hinative.com/questions/23202 agrees with your definition.
    – Peter
    Commented Feb 3 at 4:10

1 Answer 1

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“Pull yourself together” is usually said to someone who is having an emotional breakdown or an alcohol or drug-related problem. The phrase comes from an assumption that these problems can be fixed with sheer will power. The phrase is often used in a pep talk to encourage the person to “dig deep” and find deep inside their heart the confidence and inner strength to clean themselves up (e.g. comb their hair or wash their face) and start acting in a way that is respectable either in their life in general or at a gathering of people (party, wedding, etc.). You might say to someone who has had too much to drink at a wedding: “Pull yourself together, man! You’re the best man, and you have to give a speech in about 10 minutes.”

A way to remember it: Imagine a very drunk person lying in a gutter; they would have to be pulled upward to be standing upright - a respectable posture.

“Put yourself together” refers to getting ready for a party or event. For men, it means a shower, a shave, nice clothes, and maybe some cologne. For women, it means makeup, nice clothes, and maybe some perfume. As an example, you might say: “Give me 20 minutes. I’ve got to go put myself together before we go to this party; I heard Taylor Swift’s cousin is going to be there!” :)

A way to remember it: Imagine constructing, or “putting together”, a better-looking version of yourself so that you are more presentable to, say, Taylor Swift’s cousin.

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  • I was in the middle of writing your answer when I found myself coming back to this for notes. Upvote, already.
    – Elliot
    Commented Feb 3 at 4:54

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