This expression, ‘to come up with something‘, is certainly in the top 5 of expressions I hear most often. You could safely use it as a synonym of ‘to think of something’, ‘to design something’, ‘to develop something’ or almost anything along these lines (provided that the context is right, of course).
I recently heard it in a typically British exchange of wit and subtle humour. A gentleman was giving a public lecture on how to find a fulfilling job and mentioned how he at some point in life switched from being a university lecturer to being a gardener, but it wasn’t his ideal occupation either. When the question time came, a gentleman in the audience asked:
– So you realised the grass was not greener on the other side, what was wrong with being a gardener?
To which the reply was:
– I wish I’d come up with that!
Here are some more examples:
– If you ignore your users you will ignore the very people you say you want to help and often they are best placed to come up with solutions (The Guardian).
– Profits reward people for coming up with new products and services, for delivering existing products and services more efficiently, and for investing in those parts of the economy that deliver the biggest improvements in products and services. This is a great system for getting people to work hard, come up with new stuff, and get it to people efficiently (The Economist).
I could come up with my own example, but I think you might have had enough by now!
[…] It means to think of something, such as an idea or a plan. However, I’ve written about this phrasal verb before. […]