The word up was spelled in a number of ways in Old English, including up & uppe. It meant up or upward & came from the Proto-Indo-European word upo, which also gave us the Greek word hypo (as in hypo-allergenic, hypochondriac & hypodermic).
In last week’s post I mentioned that up performs as an adverb, noun, verb & adjective. I missed something. Up also functions as a preposition.
Adverb – Marcel walks up the hill.
Adjective - Ophelia seems up today.
Verb - The grocer upped the price of blueberries.
Noun - The market has its ups & downs.
Preposition - Madeleine’s speedy departure left Stanley up in the air.
And here are a few more uppish idioms:
1847 – The term getup (or get-up) refers to one’s costume. This appears to have come from the 1841 idiom getup meaninginitiative or energy.
1853 – upholster is referred to by linguists as a “back formation” because it appears to be a base word, but actually came from the longer word (from 1610) upholsterer, which refers to a person who fixes furniture. Upholsterer comes from the word upholdester, which came from the word upholden back in the 1300s, and meant repair, uphold, keep from falling or sinking.
1891 – To send someone up the river, meaning to send someone to jail, originated in New York City, as the prison Sing Sing was up the Hudson River from the city.
1922 - coverup (or cover-up) means the act of concealing. It appeared in print as two words (cover up) as early as 1872.
1947 – upbeat, meaning with a positive mood, comes from the 1869 musical term upbeat, which labels the beat during a bar when the conductor’s baton is pointed upward.
1951 - To drive someone up the wall, meaning to annoy or irritate, came from the observed behavior of some animals (& patients) in cages.
Please use the comments section to tell me what’s up.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Merriam Webster, Wordnik, Etymonline, & the OED.
I write for teens & tweens, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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