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Do these two terms mean two different things? as in:

I met up with Julie when I went to town/I met Julie when I went to town.

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The word "up" is totally redundant in this context. –  John Aug 21 '11 at 7:01
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"Met up" always indicates some kind of arrangement. "Met" does not import one way or another whether the meeting was pre-arranged, accidental, or otherwise.

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It can mean exactly the same thing, but can also be used differently.

You would say "I met..." when the meeting might have been brief or accidental, as opposed to "I met up..." where you can assume previous appointment.

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Probably better to say "I ran into..." to indicate an accidental encounter. –  Neil May 30 '11 at 12:01
    
@Neil, of course. The point is that when it is said "I met..." it could mean that "I run into..." as well as "I met up..." or "I had an appointment with...". –  Unreason May 30 '11 at 12:15
    
As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives... –  Sam May 30 '11 at 13:10
    
@Neil: But "I ran into..." (or other similar colloquial expressions such as "I bumped into...") could also have the literal meaning, i.e. that you actually collided with them at speed... –  psmears May 30 '11 at 14:29
    
@psmears - Nobody interprets that literally. In fact, it's the reason that it makes the following joke funny: "I ran into my ex-wife the other day. Then I put the car in reverse and I ran into her again." –  Neil Jun 14 '11 at 14:48
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Basically the meaning is the same, the NOAD and the Collins agree on this.

The OALD is slightly more specific, and regarding "to meet up (with somebody)":

  • It is especially referred to a meeting by arrangement and not casual (like I met her while I was going to the supermarket);
  • It's classified by the OALD as rather informal.

While "to meet (someone)":

  • It is mostly casual, as you can see in that example above.
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Why the downvote? The answers here say the same thing, so why? –  Alenanno May 30 '11 at 15:45
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The other answers here emphasize that while "meet" can carry either meaning, "meet up" almost always implies prior arrangement. Your answer marginalizes this potentially significant difference. –  Caleb Aug 22 '11 at 13:59
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