I recently attended a meeting where the speaker frequently used the phrase give it up for someone. I understand that this expression means to clap for the person or group mentioned. It is similar to give someone a hand.

Where did this phrase originate? I don’t exactly get why giving it up means clapping.

  • OED says colloq. (orig. U.S.). Their earliest citation is 1990 Re: ShrinkIt 3.0 in comp.sys.apple2 (Usenet newsgroup) 30 Mar., Hey folks, let's give it up for Andy! One huge round of applause please!. I imagine it alludes to raising your hands (from your lap, or hanging by your side) in order to clap. Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 22:15
  • @tchrist: Actually, I thought it was a Briticism, and I'm surprised to see it's so recent. We have a lot more televised "comedy club stand-ups" these days (cheap programming, I guess), and the comperes always seem to use this intro/outro. We (or more properly, the comperes) obviously really like it, to have adopted it so quickly and comprehensively. Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 22:32
  • @user814064: Nice catch! I suppose you don't have enough rep to closevote as a dup, but you might have been able to flag it to get a mod on the case. Whatever - it'll take 4 more closevotes from lesser mortals like me, but I'm certainly convinced. Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 22:35
  • I looked at the existing questions and did not see the other question.
    – Timtech
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 23:31
  • @ Timtech: No shame in that. Apparently neither Wendikidd, StoneyB, nor myself were able to find the duplicate either. If you searched for "give it up for" most likely the SO search engine would simply ignore all but the first word. And if we have multiple questions on the same issue that probably means more people are interested in it. Future visitors have more chance of finding the answer even if all the dups are closed, because the questions will all be phrased slightly differently (but they should all lead to the same "retained" question, which hopefully has the "best" answer). Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 17:02

2 Answers 2


This is a very recent thing, and is still considered “wrong” by plenty of folks.

But it is documented.

The OED’s first citation of this oddity is from a 1990 USENET posting:

“Hey folks, let’s give it up for Andy! One huge round of applause please!”

It means to show appreciation for an entertainer, usually by another, and is usually in the imperative (“Let’s give it up for”).

Further citations date from the 1990s on either side of the pond.

This use may be related to the far older to give it out, which dates from the 14th century.

See here for more.


It isn't really a "phrase" in the sense you're suggesting. "Give it up" is requesting (in a literal sense) to give your clap. The clap is yours. I think you should watch http://youtu.be/ZD037VSAG2I. The video does a great job of explaining: The clap; history, origin, future, etc. of the clap. It's called "Why we clap" by Vsauce.

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