Ups and Downs

Recently I was having a tooth filled at my dentist's office (where else) when the technician told me that she didn't think I would need to be numbed up. I started thinking about the use of "up" and "down" with other words. I have never been numbed down. I have been dumbed down.

I thought about "dress" which, as a noun, is apparel (generally worn by a female.) As a verb, it is to put on apparel (male or female.) However to dress up means something quite different, but not as challenging as to dress down (to scold.) To screw up is not the same as to screw down, etc. Sometimes, they mean similar things: I have frequently been told to drink up, and, as a child taking my medicine, to drink down.

Some words only use up or down but not both - wake up never wake down, and I have often been told by Phyllis to calm down, but I have never been advised to calm up - but she often tells me to clam up and to shut up before I am shut down. Still, I have thrown up and also thrown down (a gauntlet?) It has been a very long time since I even owned a gauntlet, but I have run one recently.

Make up has many different meanings:
Make up - Reconcile differences amicably between 2 parties (kiss and make up)
Make up - Invent/concoct (often simultaneously) stories, excuses, music, poems, recipes, etc.
Make up - difference of agreed upon pay. ("I will make up the difference")
Make up - Place sheets, blankets, pillows in a pre-determined order ("Go make up your bed.")
Make up - Cosmetics used to alter the appearance of people, especially actors (and women?)

As you can see from the above, some phrases have multiple definitions, but frequently only one is identified below. Here are some of the ups and downs that I have thought of thus far. As of this writing, the ups outnumber the downs. Your input is appreciated and will help determine the final output.



act up = to misbehave



batton down = prepare for trouble

beat up = to hit

beat down = to persuade or hard rain

bottle up = stay hidden


bottoms up = good wishes drinking alcohol


break up = end a relationship

break down = unstable (mental) or broken

back up = to copy as a security measure

back down = to be less aggressive

blow up = to get angry very fast, explode

blow down =  destroyed by wind gusts

brighten up = to make cheerful, happy


butter up = to flatter


button up = to button clothing (usually, down)



calm down = to become less excited

catch up = to share news with someone


check up = visit the doctor or mechanic


chat up = to have a light, friendly conversation


chow down = to eat

clam up = to stop speaking



clamp down on = to end something

clean up = to make clean or tidy


close up = to lock doors or very near

close down = to stop trading as a business

come up with = think a plan or an idea

come down with = to become ill

cool down = to become less agitated

cough up = to pay


cover up = to hide, conceal


crack up = burst into laughter

crack down = regulate, repress, or restrain

cut up = making jokes or playing pranks

cut down = remove a tree

dig up = remove or reveal something


dirty up = to make dirty


doll up = to dress for a special occasion


dig up = to discover

dig down = use a tool in the earth


down right = straight forward


down the hatch = to drink, swallow

dress up = to have very nice clothes on

dress down = to scold

drink up = to drink all of your drink

drink down = to swallow

dry up = remove the water or stop crying



dumb down = to convey in simple words

eat up = to believe immediately


end up = to turn out, conclude


face up = accept a difficult situation

face down = confront, be brave

feel up = to touch someone sexually


fill up = fuel a car


finish up = conclude


fired up = enthusiastic


fix up = to make right, adjust



flag down = to get someone’s attention

fry up = to cook


fxxked up = so broken in can't be fixed


get up = arise out of bed, or encourage a horse

get down = loose hope, disappoint

giddy up = make a horse start or go faster


give up = to surrender, admit failure



go down = to change to lesser value

goof up = blunder


grind up = to pulverize or crush something


grow up = become older or wiser


hands up = said while arresting a suspect

hands down = easily, without too much effort

hang up = to end phone conversation or impede

hang down = (your head, Tom Dooley?)

head up = to lead, to take charge

head down = to travel (generally to the south)

heat up = to re-heat food, warming


hit up = ask for


hold up = to wait, to delay or robbery

hold down = keep a job

hung up = thinking or worrying about something


heat up = re-heat food, or getting warmer

hunker down = remain in place

hunt up = look for something

hunt down = to find with difficulty

hurry up = do something more quickly


inch up = slowly get closer or advance



jot down = to make a note

juice up = to charge


keep up = to continue, or to stay with

keep down = to stay quiet

kiss up to = to show false flattery


knock up = to make a woman pregnate

knock down = destroy or hit someone

lighten up = lessen the intensity


lay up = basketball shot

lay down = to lie down

line up = have something/someone ready


listen up = pay attention


live it up = enjoy

live down = endure

lock up = close

lock down = shelter in place

look up = to find information

look down = undervalue, disregard

loosen up = to relax


make up = to reconcile after a quarrel/fight


man up = show courage

man down = lose courage or unconscious

marry up = combine, complement


mash up = a mixture of disparate elements


match up = correspond to


mess up = to make a mistake, to ruin


mock up = make a simple copy



narrow down = to make more specific

numb up = anesthesia injection


open up = speak freely


pay up = to pay money owed

pay down = lessen debt

push up = an athletic exercise

push down = exactly what it says

put up = endure (put up with) or preserve food

put down = criticize


quiet down = stop making noise

roll up (one’s sleeves) = to prepare to work

roll down = open (car windows)

round up = to collect or gather something

round down = reduce to nearest whole number

run up = raise a flag or incur debt

run down = criticize or injure someone

saddle up = get on your horse to ride


screw up = to ruin, to make a mess

screw down = to tighten

set up = organized or arranged

set down = record, or remove

settle up = pay one’s debt

settle down = to establish a lifestyle, to marry

shake up = reorganize

shake down - coercion

shoot up = fire gun, inject drugs

shoot down = bring down with a gun

shore up = to support


show up = appear, be visible

show down = confrontation

shut up = be silent

shut down = to end, to close

sign up = to commit oneself


sit up = straighten the body

sit down = move to a sitting position

speak up = talk louder


speed up = to make something go faster


split up = to separate


spruce up = to make look nice


stand up = erect, upright, remain intact

stand down = withdraw or relax

step up = accept a challenge

step down = withdraw or resign

straighten up (and fly right) = clean (correct)


stick up = armed robbery or support


string up = to hang (by the neck)


stuck up = staying aloof, snobbery


suck up = flatter someone excessively


take up = occupy time, space, attention

take down = overthrow

talk up = exaggerate

talk down = bargain, comfort

tanked up = drunk


tear up = destroy, damage or get tears in eyes

tear down = to demolish

think up = develop an idea


tidy up = make things cleaner


tied up = very busy

tied down = secured, limited

tighten up = to make secure or more strict

tighten down = to fix, fasten, secure

think up = to invent or imagine something


throw up = to vomit

throw down (gauntlet?) = to argue

toss up = all ourcomes are possible

toss down = to fling something downward

touch up = to enhance (visually)

touchdown = score in USA football

turn up = to appear or increase the volume

turn down = to refuse, to decline

upbeat = cheerful, optimistic

downbeat = accented beat (1st beat)

up the creek = to be in serious trouble


upchuck = vomit


upend = to turn something upside down


upright = strong moral correctness


upset = unhappy, disappointed


use up = run out of


wake up = to awaken from sleep


warm up = to prepare for a sport or performance


wash up = bath

wash down = to drink or to clean

what's up = what's up (Listen to Ismo)


wind up = end in a specific situation, place

wind down = gradually end an activity

write up = report that makes a judgement

write down = compose or devalue

zip up = complete or zip a garment



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