The word UP has many meanings in English.


UP is such a little word, but has many, many uses.

Phonetic pronunciation /ʌp/

The word UP in English has perhaps more meanings than any other two-letter word. It is listed in the dictionary as an adverb, a preposition, an adjective, a noun and a verb. Not to mention the many phrasal verbs that are formed with it.


Some definitions of the word UP

Use as an adverb.

  • From low to high, or a higher position, e.g. He jumped up.
  • To the place where someone is, e.g. She came creeping up behind him.
  • At or to a higher level of intensity, volume, or activity, e.g. He turned the volume up.
  • To get to the end of something, e.g. I’ve got a bit of paperwork to finish up.
  • To change into a happy mood, e.g. I think someone needs to cheer me up.
  • Displayed on a bulletin board or other visible site, e.g. He put up posters around the city.

Use as a preposition.

  • From a lower to a higher point on (something), e.g. Up the stairs, to the right.
  • To a higher part of (a river or stream), away from the sea, e.g. A cruise up the Rhine.

Use as an adjective.

  • Directed or moving toward a higher place or position, e.g. The up escalator.
  • In a cheerful mood, e.g. The mood here is definitely up.
  • (Of a computer system or industrial process,) functioning properly, e.g. The system is now up.
  • At an end, e.g. His contract was up in three weeks.

Use as an informal plural noun.

  • Periods of good fortune, e.g. Life has more ups than downs.

Use as a phrasal verb. (There are several more of these).

  • To raise something, e.g. Lift up your glass in a toast.
  • To leave your bed in the morning, e.g. To get up at 7 o’clock.
  • To fetch something, e.g. She picked up the mail.


Read the following text and it will give you an idea of just how versatile this word really is. I don’t know the name of the author, so I have left it as Anonymous. If anyone out there knows who wrote it – please contact me and I will print the correct name below.

UP – Author Anonymous

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends and we brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has a real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP !

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it does not rain for a while, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP for now. My time is UP, and so I’ll shut UP!


Here are a few more examples of the use of the word UP:

  • We look UP people in the phone book.
  • When we are feeling down, we need a pick-me-UP.
  • We look UP to the sky to see if it will rain.
  • I’m really fed UP with all this noise.
  • The dog has chewed UP my driver’s license.
  • What’s UP with you, you look miserable!
  • Try, try, try again. Never give UP
  • My friend recently gave UP smoking
  • Put your hands UP, this is a stick-UP.
  • Your bedroom is untidy, please pick UP your clothes.
  • Come in Nº 7, your time is UP!
  • Just keep it UP and you’ll lose your privileges!
  • Things are looking UP, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.


O.K. now I’m exhausted, so I’m giving UP. Can you come UP with any other examples?
Please send me your comments if you can think UP any more….