Meaning of “up” in the English Dictionary

"up" in British English

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uk /ʌp/ us /ʌp/

up adverb (HIGHER)

A2 towards a higher position; towards a higher value, number, or level:

Put those books up on the top shelf.
A gravel road leads through the jungle and up into the Andes.
Pushing the number of unit sales up every quarter can't be continued indefinitely.
The water was up to/had come up to the level of the windows.

out of the ground:

up and down

B2 from a higher to a lower position repeatedly:

My little girl started jumping up and down with rage when she heard she couldn't go.

More examples

  • A coil of thick blue smoke rose up from his pipe.
  • Transatlantic airfares are going up.
  • Although long-distance phone calls are going up, the charge for local calls will not alter.
  • Share prices moved up slowly yesterday.
  • She filled the jug up with cream.

up adverb (VERTICAL)

A1 in or into a vertical position:

Would you stand up for a minute? I want to see how tall you are.

More examples

  • Putting up some new wallpaper has made all the difference to the place.
  • Hang the clothes up to dry.
  • His trousers were held up with a piece of elastic.
  • The children's work had been put up on the walls of the classroom.
  • I stuck the notice up on the board.

up adverb (TOP)

A2 in a high position; at the top:

Our boardroom is up on the 23rd floor.
You can tell which way up the crates have to be because they all say "TOP".

More examples

  • He tilted his chair backwards and put his feet up on his desk.
  • I need you to hold it steady while I'm up the ladder.
  • Dad is up on the roof clearing the guttering.
  • The sugar is up on that shelf behind you.
  • Luckily, my toast landed on the carpet with the buttered side up!

up adverb (NEAR)

B1 very near:

Carrying a gun, he walked up to the cashier and demanded money.

More examples

  • A car drove up alongside (ours).
  • He went up to a complete stranger and started talking.
  • She strode purposefully up to the desk and demanded to speak to the manager.
  • A young girl came up to me and asked for money.
  • We crept up behind her and yelled "Boo!"

up adverb (INCREASE)

B2 to a greater degree; in order to increase:

The fire heats the room up (= makes it warmer) within minutes.
Grandma always turns the TV up really loud because she can't hear very well.
Try not to get worked up (= increasingly excited or angry) - I'm sure we can resolve this.

B2 If a level or amount is up, it has increased:

The cost of car insurance is up, but not very much.
Last year the company's turnover was $240 billion, up three percent on (= compared with) the previous year.

More examples

  • It was rainy this morning, but it brightened up after lunch.
  • I might just warm up the leftovers from yesterday's meal in the microwave.
  • Guide dogs open up the lives of the blind or visually impaired.
  • His time in the army certainly toughened him up.
  • My foot swelled up to three times the normal size when it was stung by a wasp.

up adverb (NOT IN BED)

B1 not in bed:

It's time to get up now!
I was up all night, finishing my essay.
up and about/around

to be able to get out of bed and move around again after a period of illness, because your health has improved enough

More examples

  • On a working day I tend to get up around seven o'clock.
  • I'm unused to getting up so early.
  • I was up until three o'clock trying to get it finished!
  • My sister was up most of the night with her baby who's teething.
  • We stayed up (late) to watch a film.

up adverb (EXIST)

into existence, view, or attention:

Originally the charity was set up to help orphans in urban areas.
I'm sorry, but something unexpected has come up (= has happened) at the office, and I'll be home late.
Coming up (= happening next) after the break, we have a man who claims he can communicate with fish.
Would this be a good time to bring up the issue of salary?

More examples

  • They're planning to set up their own business.
  • Could we set up a meeting for next week?
  • We were discussing who would be suitable for the job, and your name came up.
  • A job in the sales department has come up - would you be interested?
  • There are several things I'd like to bring up at the meeting tomorrow.

up adverb (EQUAL)

so as to be equal in quality, knowledge, or achievement:

She couldn't go to school for a few weeks because of illness, but she'll be able to catch up (with her work) quickly.
So much scientific research is being performed that it's virtually impossible to keep up (with all the new developments).

More examples

  • I need a couple of days in the office to catch up with some paperwork.
  • We've received so many orders that we're finding it difficult to keep up with the demand.
  • I'm planning to catch up on some sleep this weekend.
  • Jack finds it difficult to keep up with the rest of the class.
  • My Italian friends speak so fast that I find it really difficult to keep up with what they're saying.

up adverb (TOGETHER)

in a state of being together with other similar things:

You have half an hour to gather up anything you'll need for the journey.
Add up the column of numbers in your head and then tell me what the total is.

More examples

  • if you put a little money aside each week, it's surprising how quickly it adds up.
  • if you add those four figures up, it comes to £400.
  • Collect up your things and follow me.
  • She gathered up the newspapers that were scattered around the floor.
  • I just need to gather up a few things and then we can go.

up adverb (TIGHTLY)

tightly or firmly in order to keep something safe or in position:

Tie up the top of the bag so the rubbish doesn't fall out.
You'd better wrap up (= wear warm clothes) - it's cold outside.
UK Can you do my shoelaces up for me?

More examples

  • She wrapped the vase up carefully before packing it in the suitcase.
  • I found a bundle of letters tied up with a red ribbon at the back of her drawer.
  • Can you help me do up my dress?
  • Do your laces up or you'll trip over.
  • Wrap him up in a blanket and give him a hot drink.

up adverb (SMALLER)

broken or cut into smaller pieces; made smaller in area:

He cut the letter up into a hundred pieces.
She folded the newspaper up and put it in her bag.

More examples

  • She broke the bar of chocolate up and handed each child a piece.
  • I'll cut up a few pieces of fruit for the kids.
  • He folded up the sheets and put them in the washing basket.
  • We had to smash up the old fireplace to get it out.
  • She chopped up a small onion and added it to the pan.

up adverb (AGE)

to a greater age:

No one said that growing up would be easy or painless.

More examples

  • Learning to take disappointments is all part of growing up.
  • She decided she'd rather bring her children up in the countryside.

up adverb (DIRECTION)

towards the north:

On Tuesday she'll be travelling up to Atlanta from New Orleans.

UK towards a more important place, especially a city:

How often do you go up to London?
She comes up from her village about once a month on the train.


uk /ʌp/ us /ʌp/

up preposition (HIGHER)

A2 to or in a higher level or position:

We followed her up the stairs to a large meeting room.

More examples

  • The lorry chugged up the hill.
  • With a knife clenched between his teeth, he climbed up the tree to cut some coconuts.
  • The spider crept up the wall.
  • He came charging up the stairs to tell me the good news.
  • The noise of the car startled the birds and the whole flock flew up into the air.

up preposition (TOP)

at the top of:

You'll find a dusty attic up these stairs.
If you want Fred, he's up that ladder.

More examples

  • Her office is up those steps to your right.
  • They've got a different flag up the flagpole today.
  • We had to rescue our kitten from up the tree.
  • Who would build their house up a mountain? That's silly.
  • Is anyone still up the tower, or did you all come down together?

up preposition (ALONG)

A2 (further) along:

The car shot off up the road at high speed.
They live just up the road.
up and down

B2 along the surface of something first in one direction and then in the opposite direction, usually repeatedly:

He was running up and down the street, shouting.

More examples

  • Jack, move up the bench a bit, then Tess can sit next to me.
  • We took turns to row the boat up the river.
  • The gravel crunched underfoot as we walked up the path.
  • There's a big traffic jam further up the motorway, so we'd better take a different route.
  • The plane set off up the runway, gradually gathering speed.


uk /ʌp/ us /ʌp/

up adjective (RISING)

moving up:

an up escalator
See also

More examples

  • Total sales this month were up by $2 billion.
  • Net profits in September were marginally up on the figures for August.
  • Kathy wore her hair up with a pair of expensive looking earrings.
  • We need to go to the first floor, where's the up escalator?
  • an up stroke

up adjective (IN OPERATION)

[ after verb ] When a system, computer, or similar machine is up, it is operating, especially in its usual way:

Andy, do you know when the network will be up again?

More examples

  • There was a brief powercut but by ten o'clock the computers were up again.
  • Will the system be up again tomorrow morning?



uk /ʌp/ us /ʌp/ informal


uk /ʌp-/ us /ʌp-/

(Definition of “up” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"up" in American English

See all translations

up adverb [ not gradable ] (HIGHER)

toward a higher position, or toward a higher value, number, or level:

Pick up your clothes and put them away.
We need to push sales figures up higher next quarter.
The kids were jumping up and down on the bed.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (VERTICAL)

in or into a vertical position:

She jumped up to answer the phone.
They put up (= built) the house in a matter of weeks.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (TOP)

in a high position; at the top:

They moved to a house up in the hills.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (INCREASINGLY)

to a greater degree; in order to increase:

The afternoon sun really heats up this room (= increases the heat in this room).
Please speak up (= louder) – I can’t hear you.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (INTO EXISTENCE)

into existence, view, or consideration:

I didn’t hesitate to bring up the salary issue.
Something came up at the office and I had to work late.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (EQUAL)

so as to be equal in quality or achievement:

It’s impossible to keep up with all the new computer developments.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (NEAR)

very near:

He walked right up to me and introduced himself.
The cop pushed me up against the wall.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (TOGETHER)

in a state of being together with other similar things:

Gather up your things – it’s time to go.
She added up the numbers in her head.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (TIGHTLY)

tightly or firmly in order to keep something safe or in position:

Tie the boat up at the dock.
You’d better bundle up (= wear warm clothes) – it’s cold outside.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (SMALLER)

made smaller in area or amount, esp. by cutting or dividing:

Cut the cheese up into bite-size pieces.
They broke the company up into three separate units.
He folded up the newspaper and put it in his briefcase.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (AGE)

to a greater age:

She wants to be a singer when she grows up.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (INTO IMPROVED POSITION)

into an improved position or state:

By the third lap, Simms had moved up into second position.

up adverb [ not gradable ] (TOWARD NORTH)

toward the north:

She comes up from Washington about once a month.
noun us /ʌp/
noun us /ʌp/


us /ʌp/

up preposition (ALONG)

(farther) along:

There’s a coffee shop just up the street.

up preposition (TOP)

at the top of:

His house is up the hill.

upadjective, adverb [ not gradable ]

us /ʌp/

up adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (OUT OF BED)

out of bed:

What time did you get up?

up adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (ENDED)

finished, or to an end, finish, or state of being completed:

Finish up your breakfast – it’s almost time for school.
My time is almost up on the parking meter.

upadjective [ not gradable ]

us /ʌp/

up adjective [ not gradable ] (IN OPERATION)

(of a system or machine, esp. a computer) operating, esp. in its usual way:

The new inventory system should be up and running by the end of the month.

up adjective [ not gradable ] (INTENDED)

intended, suggested, or being considered:

The house at the end of our street is up for sale.
Ray’s up for promotion.

upverb [ T ]

us /ʌp/ -pp- infml

up verb [ T ] (HIGHER)

to increase the amount or level of something:

We won’t be able to make a profit unless we up our prices.

(Definition of “up” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"up" in Business English

See all translations


uk /ʌp/ us

towards a higher value, number, or level:

Share prices moved up slowly yesterday.
Pushing the number of unit sales up every quarter can't be continued indefinitely.

if a level or amount is up, it has increased:

The cost of insurance is up quite a lot this year.
up 5%, 20%, etc. on sth Last year the company's turnover was up 3% on the previous year.

in a state of being together with other similar things:

Add up the column of figures.

to an end or state of being complete:

Finish up this report before you leave tonight.
I'd like to wind up the meeting by thanking you for coming.
up for sth

intended, suggested, or being considered for something:

Jack is up for promotion this year.
They put / the building up for sale.

also up for doing sth willing and able to do or take part in an activity:

After a long day of meetings, I wasn't really up for taking the clients out for dinner.
He asked if anyone wanted to try, and I said I was up for it.
up to sth

as high as a particular level or number:

The Competition Commission clamped down on lenders who charge borrowers in deprived areas interest rates of up to 900%.
Owners who hire illegal workers face up to five years in prison.
Women who have been with a firm for some time are told that their files have been reviewed and suddenly their work is not up to standard.

also up until sth until a particular point in time:

Up to now, we've had all the resources we needed.
I was treated as a trusted employee up until about six months ago.

able to do something:

I had four hundred pages of reports to read, and I just didn't feel up to it.
up to the job/task Do you think he's up to the job?

upadjective [ after verb ]

uk /ʌp/ us IT

if a computer, system, etc. is up, it is operating normally:

The system is up again, so we have to get back to work.
Do you know when the network will be up again?
up and running

if a computer, machine, or system is up and running, it is operating normally:

The air-conditioning is up and running again after two days of problems.


uk /ʌp/ us
on the up (and up) UK

improving or increasing:

It's only a small business but it's definitely on the up.
House prices are still on the up.
on the up and up US

used to describe something that is done legally or honestly:

Do you feel everything with the governor's land deal was done on the up and up?
Drug makers face at least one major challenge: convincing consumers that ads are on the up and up.
ups and downs

the normal good times and bad times that happen in any situation or period:

Luard was looking to buy a new business to balance his other companies' dependence on the ups and downs of the oil sector.
The magazine industry has had its ups and downs.

upverb [ T ]

uk /ʌp/ us -pp- informal

to increase something such as a price:

We won't be able to make a profit on the deal without upping the sale price.
It looks like tax rates are going to be upped again.

See also

(Definition of “up” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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