There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is up. It’s easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake up?

At a meeting, why does a topic come up?
Why do we speak up, why are the officers up for election,
and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report?

We call up our friends.

We brighten up a room and polish up the silver.
We warm up the leftovers and clean up the kitchen.
We lock up the house, and some guys fix up the old car.

People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite,
and think up excuses.

To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed up is special.

And this up is confusing:
a drain must be opened up because it is stopped up.

We open up a store in the morning, but we close it up at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed up about up!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of up, look it up.
In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes up almost one-fourth of the page
and can add up to about thirty definitions.

If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of the many ways up is used.
It will take up a lot of your time, but if you don’t give up,
you may wind up with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding up.
When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing up.
When it rains, it wets up the earth.
When it doesn’t rain for a while, things dry up.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it up,
for now my time is up, so … time to shut up.

– Contributed by David Muller
NZIBS Graduate (Proofreading and Editing)