Weirdo words … the only way is UP

An interesting, if utterly useless study of the word UP as brought to my attention by my cousin Alyson in Québec…(original author unknown.)

This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is ‘UP.’

It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].

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, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.

We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.

At other times this little word has 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 UP 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 rains, it soaks UP the earth. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on & on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now …… time is UP, so I’ll shut UP.

Now, let’s polish UP your business writing…

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English




  1. Ah yes, the dreaded English phrasal verb – feared by English language learners everywhere 😉 So many combinations using the same tiny word (I think there are hundreds using ‘up’), and not many of the meanings obvious or logical!

    Good post, Suze 🙂


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