up for: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘up for’ mean?

The idiom "up for" means being available or willing to participate in a particular activity or event. It implies being open to considering or accepting an opportunity or challenge.

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Decoding "Game for"

One of the idiomatic expressions that has been widely used is "up for." The phrase "up for" is a prepositional phrase that consists of two words, "up" and "for." This idiom has different meanings and can be used in various contexts. Here, we will delve into the specific meanings and uses of "up for" in American English.

One primary meaning of "up for" is being willing or ready to do something. It implies having the intention or readiness to engage in a particular activity or task. The phrase is often used to indicate a person's enthusiasm or willingness to participate in an event, challenge, or opportunity. For example, someone might say, "I'm up for trying out that new restaurant," meaning they are willing to give it a try or eager to experience it.

Another usage of "up for" is to express being available or open for consideration or discussion. When something is "up for" debate, negotiation, or discussion, it means it is being offered or presented for consideration. This usage is commonly seen in politics, business, and decision-making processes. For instance, a news headline might read, "New tax proposal is up for debate in Congress," indicating that the tax proposal is being considered and discussed among lawmakers.

"Up for" can also convey a sense of challenge or competition, particularly in sports or games. When someone is "up for" a match, competition, or contest, it means they are ready to participate and face the challenge. This usage is prevalent in sporting contexts, where teams or individuals are referred to as being "up for" a particular game or match. For example, a sports commentator might say, "The home team is up for a tough match against their rivals," implying that the home team is prepared to face a significant challenge.

I am up for the game.

Furthermore, "up for" can be used to express being a contender or nominee for a position, award, or recognition. When someone is "up for" an award or nomination, it means they are being considered or competing for that particular honor. This usage is frequently encountered in the entertainment industry and other fields where awards and nominations are given. For instance, an article might state, "The actress is up for an Academy Award for her stellar performance," indicating that she is being considered as a potential nominee.

Additionally, the idiomatic expression "up for grabs" is related to the phrase "up for." When something is "up for grabs," it means it is available or up for anyone to take or acquire. This phrase is often used when referring to opportunities, prizes, or items that are open to anyone who can claim them. For example, "There are ten scholarships up for grabs for deserving students," suggests that there are ten scholarships available that eligible students can apply for and potentially receive.

Another related idiom is "be up to," which also shares the word "up" with "up for." When someone asks, "What are you up to?" they are inquiring about the activities or plans one currently has or is engaged in. It is asking for an update on someone's actions or agenda. For instance, a friend might ask, "Hey, what are you up to this weekend?" to find out what plans the person has for the upcoming days.

Furthermore, the phrase "ready up" is related to "up for" as it combines the word "up" with another verb to mean preparing or getting ready for something. It implies taking the necessary steps to be fully prepared or equipped for a specific task or event. For example, a coach might say to their team before a game, "Get ready up, it's time to give it your all." In this context, "ready up" means to physically and mentally prepare for the match ahead.

Lastly, the idiom "up on" can also be connected to "up for." When someone is "up on" a particular topic or subject, it means they are knowledgeable or well-informed about it. Being "up on" something implies having a good understanding or keeping oneself updated on the latest news, trends, or developments. For instance, a technology enthusiast might say, "I try to stay up on the latest tech gadgets," indicating that they make an effort to stay informed about the newest advancements in technology.

The idiom "up for" encompasses various meanings and uses in American English. It signifies being willing or ready to do something, expressing availability or openness for consideration or discussion, highlighting a sense of challenge or competition, and denoting being a contender for an award or recognition. Additionally, related idioms such as "up for grabs," "be up to," "ready up," and "up on" further expand the usage and understanding of the phrase "up for" in different contexts. Its versatility allows it to be utilized in various communicative situations while preserving clarity, simplicity, and effectiveness in conveying one's message.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "up for" can be used in a sentence:

  • 1. She is always up for trying new adventures.
  • 2. Are you up for going to the movies tonight?
  • 3. He wasn't up for the challenge and decided to quit.


The idiom "up for" is commonly used to imply being willing or available for something. It is often used to express a person's enthusiasm, interest, or preparedness to participate in or face a specific situation or activity.

In the first example, the phrase "up for" is used to convey someone's enthusiasm and willingness to try new adventures. It implies that the person is open to experiencing new things and is eager to participate in different activities or experiences.

The second example uses "up for" to inquire if someone is willing or available to go to the movies that night. It suggests that the speaker wants to know if the person is interested or ready to join them for a movie outing.

Lastly, in the third example, "up for" is used to indicate someone's lack of readiness or motivation to face a challenge. It suggests that the person wasn't mentally or physically prepared to take on the task and, as a result, chose to quit instead.

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