Understanding the Idiom: "have up" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
Idiom: “Have up”
Synonyms: Summon, call forth, bring before
Meaning: To request someone’s presence or appearance for questioning or discussion

The phrase “have up” has been in use since at least the early 19th century. It is often used in legal or formal contexts when someone needs to be questioned about their actions or involvement in a situation. However, it can also be used informally to invite someone over for a chat or social gathering.

Understanding the nuances of this idiom can help non-native speakers navigate conversations with native English speakers more effectively. In the following sections, we will examine some common examples of how “have up” is used in different situations and provide tips on how to use it correctly.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “have up”

The idiom “have up” is a common phrase used in English language that has its roots in historical context. The phrase is often used to describe the act of summoning someone to appear before an authority or court for questioning or trial.

The Origins

The origins of this idiom can be traced back to medieval times when feudal lords had absolute power over their subjects. In those days, if a lord suspected any wrongdoing by his subject, he would have them brought before him for questioning and punishment.

As time went on, this practice became more formalized with the establishment of courts and legal systems. The term “have up” was then adopted as a way to describe the process of bringing someone before these authorities for questioning or trial.

Historical Context

The use of this idiom has been prevalent throughout history, particularly during times when authoritarian regimes were in power. For example, during the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I in England, many people were “had up” for crimes such as treason or heresy.

In modern times, the phrase is still commonly used within legal contexts such as criminal trials or civil lawsuits where individuals are summoned to appear before a judge or jury.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “have up”

When it comes to idioms, there are often variations in how they are used. The same can be said for the idiom “have up”. This phrase has a variety of meanings and can be used in different contexts depending on the situation.

Variations of “have up”

The most common use of “have up” is to invite someone to your home or office. However, this phrase can also mean to bring something or someone from a lower level to a higher one. For example, you might say that you need help having boxes brought up from the basement.

In addition, “have up” can refer to bringing someone or something into discussion or consideration. You might say that you want to have an idea brought up at a meeting or have a particular topic discussed with your boss.

Usage Examples

To better understand how “have up” is used in context, here are some examples:

  • “I’m having some friends over for dinner tonight.” (inviting people)
  • “Can you help me have these boxes brought up from the basement?” (bringing things higher)
  • “I’d like to have this issue brought up at our next meeting.” (bringing topics into discussion)

Note: It’s important to remember that idioms may not always make sense when translated literally. It’s best to learn them in context and practice using them appropriately.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “have up”

When it comes to synonyms for “have up”, there are a few options depending on the context. For example, if we’re talking about bringing someone to court or accusing them of something, we could use phrases like “bring charges against” or “accuse”. On the other hand, if we’re talking about inviting someone over to our house or office, we might use phrases like “invite over” or simply “ask”.

Antonyms for “have up” might include phrases like “let go” or “release”, which imply freeing someone from custody rather than arresting them. In terms of inviting someone over, an antonym could be something like “turn away” or “refuse entry”.

Cultural insights can also be helpful in understanding the nuances of this idiom. For example, in some cultures it may be more common to invite people over without necessarily specifying a time frame (i.e. saying something like “come by anytime”), while in others it may be considered rude not to specify a specific time and date.

Additionally, different legal systems may have different procedures for bringing charges against someone – what constitutes a crime in one country may not be illegal in another. Understanding these cultural differences can help us better interpret the meaning behind idioms like “have up”.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “have up”

Exercise 1: Fill in the Blanks

In this exercise, we will provide a sentence with a blank space where “have up” should be used. Your task is to fill in the blank with the correct form of “have up”.

Example: After his performance, he was _______ by the judges for an interview.

Answer: had up

1. The police officer _______ him _______ about his whereabouts on the night of the crime.

2. The teacher _______ her students _______ one by one to check their homework.

3. The company CEO was _______ by shareholders at a meeting last week.

4. She was nervous when she found out that she would be _______ for questioning by her boss.

Exercise 2: Conversation Practice

In this exercise, you will practice using “have up” in everyday conversation. Find a partner and take turns asking each other questions using “have up”. Try to make your questions as natural as possible.


Person A: Have you ever been had up by your parents?

Person B: Yes, I have! They caught me sneaking out past curfew once.

1. Have you ever been had up by a teacher or professor?

2. When was the last time you were had up by someone?

3. Do you think it’s fair for employers to have employees up if they suspect wrongdoing?

4. Have you ever had someone else get had up because of something you did?

Exercise 3: Writing Practice

In this exercise, write a short paragraph (5-7 sentences) using “have up” correctly in context. You can choose any topic you like, but try to make it as interesting and engaging as possible.

Example: After the party, the police had everyone up for questioning about the missing diamond necklace. It was chaos – people were shouting and accusing each other of theft. Eventually, they found out that the necklace had fallen off in the bathroom and was picked up by one of the cleaners.

1. Last week, my boss had me up to discuss my performance at work. I was nervous at first, but it turned out to be a positive conversation.

2. The principal had all of us students up in front of the school assembly to talk about bullying. It was an important message that really resonated with me.

3. My friend got had up by her parents after coming home late from a party last weekend. She’s grounded now for two weeks!

4. The company CEO was had up by reporters at a press conference about recent scandals involving their products. He handled it well and promised to do better in the future.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “have up”

When using idioms in English, it is important to understand their meanings and usage. The idiom “have up” can be confusing for non-native speakers as it has multiple meanings depending on the context. However, there are common mistakes that people make when using this idiom that can lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings.

Firstly, one mistake is using “have up” instead of “bring up”. While both idioms refer to bringing something into discussion or mentioning something, “bring up” is used when referring to a topic or subject while “have up” is used when referring to a person. For example, you would say “I brought up the issue during the meeting” but not “I had John up during the meeting”.

Another mistake is assuming that “have up” always means inviting someone for a visit or interview. In some contexts, it can also mean criticizing or reprimanding someone publicly. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to the tone and context of the conversation before using this idiom.

Lastly, another common mistake is forgetting about phrasal verbs with similar meaning such as “call out”, which means publicly criticizing someone or exposing them for wrongdoing.

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