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Ups And Downs

by Ron Kitson

These two words in the English language have so many meanings, especially "Up" which no longer means simply "away from the ground." This simple two letter word uses a half page in my dictionary. Or should I say "uses up" half a page?

We go uptown or downtown even when the entire region is flat. We get tied up in traffic, they tie up a ball game at three up for example or tie something up using tie downs. We might walk down the street and meet up with an old friend.

A robber may hold up a bank and force them to open up the vault. We look up a phone number and then call them up. Some students need to smarten up and buckle down. When a knife gets dulled up or worn down, we sharpen it up again.

<b>up</b> arrow
We tune up a fiddle, come up with a riddle or tune in for up-to-the-minute news. We boot up our computers and when we're finished, we shut them down.

We all know that going uphill can be tough and that going downhill is easy (just ask Lance Armstrong) and you've no doubt heard people say "it was an uphill battle." So, why do people say for example; "...then I lost my job and it was all downhill from there?" Shouldn't it be uphill?

We used to dress up and polish up our shoes to go to town or, to go out to eat. If we move "up" to the front of a line, shouldn't we start "down" at the back? If we don't show up in court, they will track us down.

We get all worked up and we get run down. When you're feeling really down, a cheerful call from an old friend can sure pick you up and indeed, cheer you up. We speak up or shut up, show up for a show down, pass up or turn down an offer, We can slow up or slow down, shake up or shake down, wake up, get up, hurry up and later on let up or let down.

We add up our bills, get fed up because we have to pay up even if we're too hard up and can't come up with the money. We tighten up, loosen up or ease up.

We have ball players who are already up in the big leagues where pitchers wind up and throw a change up and others who are up and coming. We look up to some and down on others regardless of their height. We fatten up or slim down.

When our old clock runs down, we wind it up again. We speed up and then if we see a cop down the road, we slow down not wishing to get written up.

We make up or break up. When our cars break down, we fix them up again or perhaps end up moving up to a better one. We buy up land, put up a house and settle down in a suitable area to bring up kids. Hey, wait up while I finish up!

<b>down</b> arrow
Hi, what's up? What'cha bin up to? Drink up and let's go up to Charlie's Grill for a bite to eat. It's up to you. Well, I really don't feel up to it. I think I'm coming down with something.

I clean up the yard and then I mess up the house. If a tree blows down, I cut it up. We pack up, jam up and ham it up. She cooks up a meal and then we sit down and eat it all up. We wax up the car and then wipe it down.

We pull up to the gas pump, shut down the engine, and fill up the tank. We get a check up and the car gets a tune up. We lock up, stock up and chalk up. The skies may clear up or cloud up and if the rain keeps up, I guess it won't come down. What'd you say? Speak up.

We light up a room for a party and turn the lights down for a romantic evening. We turn the volume up or down. We save up money for a vacation, perhaps a trip down South in the winter to warm up or up North in the summer to cool down.

Wild animals know enough to stay down wind from their prey because if they are up wind, their prey will pick up their scent and that makes it hard to sneak up on them.

Whether we like it or not, ads will continue to pop up, the drain will stop up and I think it's time to wrap it up.

English is one of the world's easier languages to learn to speak but a very difficult one to spell. It is also filled up with confusing expressions such as "turn left right up here" or, "Ok, go ahead and back up."

I guess you could say our language has its "ups and downs."




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