Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

up - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective, adverb, preposition     up pronunciation in British English
Up can be used in the following ways:
as an adverb: Their voices could be heard up in our room.Mary looked up at him.I stood up.
as a preposition: He climbed up the steps.I set off up the road.
as an adjective: the up escalator
after the verb ‘to be’: He was up early the next morning.Food prices are up.I knew something was up.
  1. 1
    in or towards a higher position
    1. a.
      from a lower place to a higher place

      Could you help me carry this old trunk up to the attic?

      I got off my bike and walked up the hill.

      He held the cup up to his lips and slowly sipped the tea.

      Pick your clothes up off the floor and put them away.

      He raised the child up above his head, which she seemed to enjoy.

      Put your hand up if you know the answer.

    2. b.
      in a high place, or in a higher place than you, for example near the top of a hill or in the top part of a house

      She’s up in the bathroom.

      He was up the ladder, cleaning the windows.

      Further up the hill was a small farm.

      The hotel is 1,500 feet up in the Black Mountains.

    3. c.
      looking, turning, or pointing away from the ground or towards a higher position

      We rolled on our backs and looked up at the sky.

      I turned my face up towards the sun.

      Lynn glanced up from the book she was reading.

      A path leads up from the beach to the top of the cliff.

  2. 2
    upright, or moving towards an upright position

    He stood up and pulled a chair out for me to sit on.

    I found Hattie sitting up in bed.

    The dog stopped with its ears up and nose twitching.

  3. 3
    in or towards the north of a region or country

    I go up to Scotland about once a month.

    She’s up north with her family on a holiday.

  4. 4
    moving near to someone or something and then stopping

    One of the salespeople came up and asked if she could help.

    up to:

    Two women ran up to us, shouting in Spanish.

    Just go up to him and say hello.

  5. 5
    along a river, road etc
    1. a.
      moving along a road, street, path etc, or at a point along it in a direction away from you

      Further up the road was a little country pub.

      He lives up the street from me.

    2. b.
      moving along a river in the opposite direction that the water is flowing, or at a point along it in this direction

      We went on a long trip up the Amazon.

      Up the river, in the distance, was the rescue boat.

  6. 6
    increased in amount/level
    1. a.
      at or towards an increased number, level, or amount

      Total new car sales were up £3 million over last year.

      go up:

      Fuel prices went up by 3 per cent.

      be up on something:

      Profits for August were slightly up on July’s figure.

    2. b.
      becoming louder, stronger, or more active

      Billy, will you turn the volume on the TV up – I can’t hear anything.

      Competition between the production groups is hotting up rapidly.

  7. 7
    awake and out of bed

    We were up bright and early the next morning.

    Get up! It’s almost 10.00.

    I was up till midnight preparing the presentation.

  8. 8
    used for saying that a period of time has ended

    Come along now, please! Time’s up!

  9. 9
    divided or broken into small pieces or equal parts

    The prize money will be divided up among the team members.

    Divorce settlements often involve property that can’t be split up easily.

  10. 10
    completely done or used so that there is nothing left

    Eat up all your dinner.

    I think it was selfish of me, using up all her free time like that.

    The stream dries up in summer.

  11. 11
    fastened or closed completely

    She kept Albert’s letters in a bundle tied up with ribbon.

    Did you lock the house up before you left?

    Synonyms and related words
  12. 12
    collected, added, or brought together in one place

    She was busy gathering up her papers.

    Our profits are quite large when you add them all up.

  13. 14
    a computer system that is up is working properly

    By ten o’clock we had the computers up again.

  14. 15
    British a road that is up is being repaired and cannot be used

    We had to take a different route because Bristol Road was up.

  15. 16
    in a place that is near where you are

    He’ll be up at the school talking to parents.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play