Thursday, August 22

The Meaning of “What’s Up?”

The word “up” is usually used as a Preposition or as an Adverb to talk about position and movement.


the shop up the street

jump up and down

climb up the mountain


I Smell Trouble

But sometimes, in informal conversation, “up” can have the meaning that something is happening. Especially something unusual or bad.

For example, if you see your friend being very serious and quiet, you can ask:

Is anything up?


What’s up?

These expressions have the same meaning as “What’s the matter?” or “What’s wrong?”

You can also use the Prepositionwith” to add a person.

This way:

What’s up + with + somebody ?


He looks angry. What’s up with him?

She’s always complaining. What’s up with her this time?

How to Answer

Most of the time especially in North American English, “What’s up?” doesn’t have a negative meaning. There isn’t any problem or anything wrong.

What’s up?” can have many different meanings depending on the situation. 


First, it can have the same meaning as “What’s new?” or “What is happening in your life?”

A: What’s up, Toshi? I haven’t seen you in a while.

B: Nothing much. / Not much. / Not a lot. / Today is just like yesterday... 

And you?


Second, it can have the meaning of “How are you?” or “How are you feeling?”


A: Hey, James, what’s up?

B: I’m all right. / It’s all good. / It’s good.

It’s Just a Greeting

What’s up?” isn’t a real question that needs a real answer. It’s just a common greeting that you can use to your friend. In this sense, it almost means the same as “Hi” or “Hello.”

Sometimes, it can also be used with a meaning similar to “Nice to meet you.”


A: What’s up?

B: Hey, man.

A: Hi Liz!

B: Hey, what’s up?

Sara: Megan, this is my brother Roy.

Roy: What’s up, Megan?


What’s up?” was made popular by the cartoon character Bugs Bunny. Are you familiar with him?

Copyright Warner Brothers

As early as 1940, Bugs Bunny started using the familiar phrase: “What’s up, Doc?” In fact, many people remember him together with this expression.

A few years before "What's up? ," one popular casual greeting was "What's happening, dude?" 

Other Forms

You can also hear "What's up?" phrase in other forms.


wassup, what up, waz up, wazzup, whassup, wuzzup, wussup, sup, wa'up, swa'up

Because of its informal style, the phrase can also be answered in many casual ways.


Nada = nothing (from Spanish)

Nuttin’ = nothing

I’m aight. = I’m all right.

S'good. = It’s good.

Other Ways to Answer

Some people actually think the phrase "What's up?" is a bit unusual. Because of this, they reply to the greeting in a humorous way. 


A: What's up? 

B: The sky. / The ceiling. 

But the best way to answer it is still: 

A: What's up? 

B: Nothing much. / Not much. 

Hope You Learned Something!

Keep on learning !

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