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Why's "what's up" used as greeting among young people? It sounds like asking "what is up there"?

A: What's up?

B: The sky.

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What's going down? Just idioms. What's up was popularised by Bugs Bunny and again as wazzup from a beer commercial so not just among young people –  mplungjan Jan 22 '13 at 9:28
    
@mplungjan: Still, every idiom has some origin and knowing origin of this one would be interesting. My guess: it's directly related to "What's the top news?" –  SF. Jan 22 '13 at 9:55
    
Sure - see my answer –  mplungjan Jan 22 '13 at 9:58

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Up has many, many uses and referring to something that is above is just one of them.

What’s up is not an innovation by the young of today. As a statement or a question about what might be happening, it isn't particularly new. In a letter written in 1838, the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell wrote I did not mention a word to Lucy but she must have guessed something was ‘up’. Even in its reduced form of wassup, it’s over 100 years old.

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Absolutely. I think it's a trivial extension from What are you up to? and {he is} up to no good, both of which occur well before even your citation. –  FumbleFingers Jan 22 '13 at 14:59

Just another idiom

What's up or wazzup

Etymology
Made popular by the cartoon character Bugs Bunny who used it as early as 1940 as part of his catch phrase “What’s up Doc?” (where each word was pronounced distinctly).

Alternative forms wassup, what up, waz up, wazzup, whassup, wuzzup, wussup, sup, wa'up, swa'up, what's good

Bugs Bunny

Budweiser commercial

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