Does come through with sound like a perfectly acceptable idiomatic alternative to come up with?

"He came through with an answer, not immediately, that made so much sense." – source

  • No, this doesn't sound that good. 'to come through' means 'to persevere'. Also, 'not immediately' by itself like this sounds really wrong, like something is missing (hard to se how to fix it). – Mitch Feb 10 '14 at 18:56
  • "Come through with" is an idiom that would be used under difficult conditions. "Come up with" does not imply difficult conditions. – Luke Feb 10 '14 at 19:47

Only in some instances could they be used interchangeably. Although they are similar in meaning, "come through with" means to deliver whereas "come up with" means to find.

  • Johnny came up with $10. Johnny found $10 (Johnny is the recipient).

  • Johnny came through with $10. Johnny delivered $10 (Johnny is the deliverer).

However, if everybody in a group has a goal that requires $10 more to accomplish, then you could say either one to describe the fact that Johnny solved the problem with $10.

  • We all need only $10 more to rent a limousine for the night. Cool! Johnny just [came through with | came up with] the last $10.
  • I don't think that's what come up with means. It means to produce by means of work. came through with means to in the end contribute. – virmaior Feb 10 '14 at 1:00
  • @magic-smoke-puppet if I gathered you correctly on that, one can come through with assistance or support to some matter, and come up with an appropriate solution to it, can't they? And so, "Thank you for any help you can come through with (on a particular point" sounds -- in AE at least -- like a perfectly acceptable alternative to the more typical "Thank you for any help you can provide", doesn't it? – Elian Feb 10 '14 at 22:32

On paper, the definitions looks similar:

come through: 1. to do what is needed or expected [came through in the clutch]

come up with: to produce especially in dealing with a problem or challenge [came up with a solution]

In informal American English, however, come through carries a sense of avoiding some negative consequence with the action. If my co-worker's presentation saves a failing sales pitch, I might remark

Sally really came through for us with her slides.

Mark arrived late, but he came through during the Q&A.

The focus is on the salutary effect of the act.

On the other hand, to come up with something suggests an invention or an ad hoc solution. It can have both positive or negative connotations depending on context:

The Winkelvosses came up with the idea for Facebook— or so they claim.

Whoever came up with turbaconducken was a genius.

Perhaps the thing come up with solves a pressing problem, and perhaps not, but it is in any case something newly devised. The focus is on innovative nature of the act.

Thus, there are situations where either could be used, but they would highlight slightly different aspects.

The application was bogging down, but the DBA came through with a more efficient stored procedure.

The DBA found a solution, to everyone's relief.

The application was bogging down, but the DBA came up with a more efficient stored procedure.

The DBA found an inventive solution.

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