Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A common English idiom "take you up on it" is apparently used to indicate a general willingness or predisposition to accept something that is offered or granted. For example,

If you make an offer to help a stranger in need, don't be surprised if they take you up on it!

Does anyone know the origins of this common English idiom?

share|improve this question
2  
The word "it" is just an irrelevant pronoun standing in for the offer that's been made. The "idiomatic" issue is that "take up [an offer] made by someone" transforms into "take [someone] up on [an offer]". Nor does the pronoun "you" make any difference - it's no different with "I should take John up on his offer". –  FumbleFingers Nov 8 '12 at 1:56

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I think that part of the informality comes from transforming the verb take, which here means something like accept, to the phrasal verb take up [on].

Phrasal verbs often have meanings that are different from the verb they contain and sound more informal than just the verb.

For me there is also the playful imagery of taking up meaning something like absorb. I picture an amoeba engulfing an "offer particle".

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.