Monday, February 11, 2013

Word of the Week - Up

First, I'd just like to say that it's my baby boy's birthday, and he's FIVE! How did that happen? LOL.

But anyway. On to the word of the week. =) I chose up not because of its literal meaning, of course, which has been in English forever, but because of some of the fun idioms.

Up as "exhilarated, happy" is first attested in 1815. Up-and-coming, "promising," is from 1848. The phrase on the up-(and-up) joined the party in 1863, though only in American English. Up the river, meaning "in jail," was first recorded in 1891, originally in reference to Sing Sing, which is up the Hudson from New York City. To drive someone up the wall (1951) is from the notion of the behavior of lunatics or caged animals. The insulting retort up yours is attested by the late 19th century, which I found a bit surprising. I'd have thought it more modern that that.

But my primary interest was in the phrase "something must be up" or "what's up?" which I couldn't find, LOL. Well, I couldn't find the etymology of the first. In looking up "what" I found that that one is from 1881, and I'm assuming the "something" way of stating it instead of asking it is from a similar time.

As for what's up around happy little boy! =) Hope everyone has a great one!


  1. Fascinating, Roseanna. Especially the retort from the late 19th century. I agree: I would have thought it part of the corruption of the modern.

    Happy, happy day to your boy!

  2. I never put much thought into the word UP, so this was quite interesting. I, too, would have thought the one would have been more modern. I don't think I've ever heard that phrase used in any films set in the late 1800's.
    Belated Happy Birthday to your handsome man :)