The many meanings, in the English language, of the useful word "up".
|UP Up, up, up--- it's a well-used English word. From adjective to noun to adverb to preposition, we cannot speak up without it. It's a part of our childhood. Every day we hear it. Parents are ambitious for their offspring: wake up, get up, wash up, clean up, tidy up, pick up, ( or don't pick up!), eat up, drink up, stand up, speak up,, ( and sometimes its opposite, shut up), listen up, look up, ( often replaced with, "look out!"), and the inevitable, hurry up. Up, though, is not always straightforward. During our upbringing, parents bring things up. This could mean that they mention something as in they broach a subject, or it could literally mean they are lifting and carrying an object. ( Both are used in the subtle parental arts of interrogation, disciplining, and bribery. ) To bring up also has another application. It is perhaps less graphic than vomit, puke, hurl, ralph, spew or upchuck. Bringing up and upbringing-- necessary for growing up. A small child soon realizes that "up" is an important word. They hear it all the time. If they tumble or drop something, they are told, " upsa-daisy". They learn to stand in front of an adult, ( or someone bigger), with their little arms stretched high. This is body language difficult to ignore. It's universal and means, " pick me up". Pick me up so that I can see from your vantage point. Pick me up so you can talk to me. Pick me up so we can snuggle. Pick me up because I'm tired and your legs are stronger. A child thus knows that " pick me up" has several meanings- all good. ( By the time this child is an adult, pick me up will mean " come and get me and bring caffeine".) Pick me up or lift me up are interchangeable. Both result in a physical elevation, a raising to new heights. Uplift also means all of this, but in a different sense, an emotional or moral sense. Exhilarate or elate... lift my spirits. Children understand this and express it via " sweep-me-up-and-off-my-feet-bear-hugs". Sweep up versus upsweep. One involves cleaning up, tidying up, and the use of a broom. ( Some misguided people consider housework to be uplifting. Most of us try to avoid the lifting. We prefer to elevate our feet, not the brooms, the mops, the dust rags, etc. ). The upsweep is not the dirt swept into a dustpan. It is the updo, the beehive, the big hair ala Marge Simpson. For most mothers, it is achieved with an elastic or two, maybe a hairclip or a few bobby pins. Unfortunately, this particular upsweep is often followed by a sweep up. Now a dustup doesn't, ( or shouldn't),require upswept hair, a sunny day, or cleaning cloths of any kind. It may involve backs up, tempers flaring up, dukes up/ fists up. In short this is an uproar, ( with noise and clamour). There could be upswings and not the positive encouraging kind. People can be upset and possibly set up. Both cause and are caused by a disturbance. ( A child sets up his blocks and is upset when they are knocked down.) Emotions and relationships can be hurt. A glass of milk can be spilled. A potted plant can be overturned. A sporting event and its outcome can cause disappointment. Upsets are complicated. Arrangements, configurations, and placements can be equally difficult. Uprising or rising up? Revolution, riot, and speaking up, lifting up. This invokes change, struggle, and standing up. We all learn to stand up.. to literally rise to our feet. How often have we heard the command, "stand up"? At times, it referred to our lack of erect posture. Sometimes, it meant " let's get going" or " pay attention". We are taught it is a sign of respect, self-discipline, and pride. We learn to stand up for our beliefs--- defend them, practise them, and live them. To be upstanding is to be worthy, honest, and upright. ( Since this is also an erect vertical post, it reinforces Mom's " stand tall" directive.) All of the above, speak to being upfront, ( not necessarily first in line), a straightforward, truthful, nothing-to-hide person. Children tend to be " up-in-your-face" kind of people. They like attention and they tell it like it is to the point of bluntness, but their charm is they are upbeat. Upbeat, happy enthusiastic, positive little optimists.. most of the time. Things are not always as they seem and things happen. Upset, uproar, acting up...upbeat can lead to beat up. Upstage and upstart can be a part of this. Upbeat is not at all the same as beat up. Granted, a child delivering the blows can be enthusiastic about a beating, but the victim tends to feel differently. Hopefully, a "beat up" evolves into a "make up", a chance to apologize, make amends, and repair bridges. This is the opposite of the make up or make-believe, ( possibly lies), that may have led to the disagreement in the first place. Conflicts and resolutions are a part of growing up and maturing. The other "makeup" also figures into this equation, ( sometimes it too provides repairs.) Cosmetics such as lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, mascara and foundation are favoured by adult women, ( used to play dress-up by girls), and performers. Different looks can be made up. Makeup wearers can feel upbeat and upscale. Now on the subject of makeup, it can be argued that it can be applied to the face to both uphold and hold up .According to my dictionary, uphold means to hold up, to sustain, to countenance, to defend, to maintain, and to confirm. These are pretty much the reasons that a person wears makeup. They wish to create, to keep their youth, to put their best face, (countenance), forward and to present an appearance of confidence. Cosmetics firm up wrinkles, plump up lips, cover up imperfections, or lift up eyelashes. Far less painful than surgery which uses stitches, staples, lasers, and implants to sustain or hold "things" up. We can hold our jeans up with a belt. We can stop and wait after hearing, " hold up". We can use tacks to hold up a poster. We can be the delay, the frustration ,the obstacle--- the hold up. We can follow the rules and uphold the law. We can hold our heads up and our hands too. This brings me to another meaning of hold up. The hold up that employs phrases like, " pay up", or " ante up", followed by, " this is a holdup". The stuff of criminal dramas, guns, and police chases--a robbery. ( The makeup in this instance could be a disguise.) Sometimes, this type of holdup results in shot up which is far more unpleasant than upshot. The latter is definitely more positive when used as slang for a happy ending. Unfortunately, upshot in the strictest sense, means final result. The upshot of a robbery is both good and bad: it does end, but not always favourably. One result for the holdup is a write up followed by a send up. The crime may be featured in a news article and written up as a summons. The criminal may face prison time. ( I think he or she would prefer the party-type send-up.) Send up, link up, hook up, look up, power up, and upload---all computer-speak. Common phrases to many of us and appropriate because up can mean a condition of activity or excitement. Isn't this true of computer usage? With a computer, we can be abreast of new ideas, or up to date. We know what's up. We know what others are up to or what's coming up. Mother's Day is upcoming. I'd like to say sorry, Mom, for the upsets, the mix ups, the screw ups, the acting up, and even the upchucks. Thanks to you, Mom, everyday I wake up, get up, sit up, eat up, drink up, wash up, tidy up, ( maybe!), and spend time catching up. You taught me to read up, stand up, speak up, and keep my chin up. You inspire me to look up, lighten up, see the upside to situations, and never give up. I am still working on the listen up! Most of all, thank you, Mom, for getting knocked up with me!! I love you. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY|