Printable Version
Pronunciation: êp Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adverb, preposition, verbal particle, verb

Meaning: 1. (Adverb, preposition) In, at, or toward a higher position, cost, or number. 2. (Adverb, preposition) Against a current, as 'upstream'. 3. (Adverb, preposition) Northward. 4. (Verbal particle) Completely, as 'to clean up a room'. 5. (Verb) To raise, increase as 'to up the ante'.

Notes: This word is often called the word with the most meanings. However, as a verbal particle it can mean "completely". So, 'to mop the floor' allows for incomplete mopping, but 'to mop up the mess' does not; it means to completely mop'. This adverb has an adjective upper, as 'the upper bunk'.

In Play: Uppity I offer plenty of examples in the Language Blog, so I will just give a few more verbal particle examples. We can tear things and patch them up again, but when we tear them up, we do it completely, destroying them. We can write something without finishing it, but when we write something up, its completed.

Word History: This word originated in PIE upo "(up from) under". By the time is reached Dutch as op "up" and in German it had become auf "up, on" and ob "whether, around". English up comes from the same PIE source. Latin sub "under" is the remnants of ex-upo "from under" and super "over" came from sub + er. Greek hypo "(from) under" and hyper "over" made it without prefixing ex, PIE up-er. English also created eaves from this word. It was efes in Old English. Germanic languages changed PIE [p] to [f]. English over (Old English ofer) originated in the same construction as Greek hyper. (Janet Ann Collins was curious as to how the tiny words of English came about and suggested we run a few. Here is our first response.)

Dr. Goodword,

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