Accent Reduction and Communication Skills Training
American Idioms Using the Word “Up:” What’s Up With That?
Idioms are expressions that mean something completely different from the literal translation of the words, and as we all know, American English is full of them. Many idioms can be categorized in terms of categories or specific words they include. Let’s take the word “up” for example. This simple, two-letter word can be an adjective, noun, verb, preposition, or adverb. It has more meaning than perhaps any other word in English! American English incorporates this word into many, many expressions. Let’s take a look at just a few of the ways the word “up” can be used in idioms.
Most of us “wake up” early during the week so that we can “get up” and get ready for work each day. Women often “fix up” their faces and their hair and “get dressed up” for work, while others go to work in casual attire. Some of us have flexible work hours, while others with strict bosses may be “up the creek” if they are even one minute late. It really is “up to” the individual person in charge. We tend to “look up” to people we admire, and are encouraged to “speak up” at meetings. Sometimes at work, we need to “write up” reports, “call up” customers, we often get "tied up" in meetings, and “think up” new ideas and concepts.
Not everything goes well all the time in our daily lives. No one “signs up” for difficult situations, but they are inevitable. We sometimes “stir up” trouble when we don’t mean to, often have to “clean up” messes, "fix up" our cars when they break down, try to “think up” excuses for things when we get into trouble, "make up" with someone after an argument, "lawyer up" in a criminal case, and "tie up" loose ends. At least we can relax at lunchtime, can’t we? Well, after we “line up” to get our meals, we can sit and “chat up” our friends, and not get “hung up” with our problems.
Yes, “up” seems to be everywhere. If you “look it up” in the dictionary, you may be amazed at what you find. Go to www.dictionary.com for instance, and take a look at the lengthy page of definitions for this word. You may “wind up” needing reading glasses after you read it, because it will “take up” a lot of your time.
I could go on and on about the word “up”, but I’ll leave the rest “up to” you. See how many expressions using “up” you can think of, and don’t “give up!” Maybe you’ll “come up” with a hundred!