Software programmers are gearing up to build applications for the newest version of Windows Phone 7.

It seems the 'gear up' in here means 'ready'. So why not use 'ready' and what's the difference with 'ready'?

  • 3
    you're talking about ready as verb here right? – falstro Mar 31 '11 at 10:54
  • Of note, "ready up" is a common enough phrase that it deserves some mention. It does not work in this context as "... they are readying up to build ..." sounds forced. "Ready up" more or less means "Let's go" or "Gear up." – MrHen Mar 31 '11 at 16:19

Yes, gear up is synonymous with ready. But then, ready is also synonymous with prepare… “Gear up” has some implications that you will be readying your equipment (your gear), though it can also be used figuratively.

All in all, I don't see a big difference between these uses of gear up, ready and prepare.

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  • 2
    I find "gear up" in this sense to have a very journalistic flavour. Looking on the British National Corpus, it has 24 hits for "gear up", 16 of them actually containing this phrase (as opposed to eg "put his gear up on top"). 2 are in the literal sense of "put your gear on", 9 - 11 of them are from newspapers and magazines, and 2 from business meetings. 1 - 3 are from books. – Colin Fine Mar 31 '11 at 11:51
  • @Colin: I do agree that gear up is more colloquial, and thus used mostly in spoken English or in journalistic style. – F'x Mar 31 '11 at 11:56
  • you mean 'figuratively'. Do the 'gear up' make you imagine the gears? If so, then, It's really figuratively. – lovespring Apr 1 '11 at 0:42
  • While I agree that gear up and ready are synonyms, it is important to note that gearing up and ready are not. Ready would not work in the OP's example sentence, as it would indicate that the software programmers are presently building applications rather than just preparing to. Preserving the gerund with readying would indicate that the subject is still in the process of preparing. – HaL Apr 1 '11 at 13:20

Gearing up means getting ready:

To get ready for a coming action or event

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  • what's the diff: "getting ready" and "ready" ? "getting ready" means the process and 'ready' means the status ? – lovespring Apr 1 '11 at 5:57

In addition to the other answers, I perceive "gear up" to also imply a certain level of excitement, so that the programmers are also excited about the project. Compare the sentence

Software programmers are gearing up to build applications for the newest version of Windows Phone 7.


Software programmers are preparing to build applications for the newest version of Windows Phone 7.

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Readying is to be used in place of 'gearing up' as per your question, and the sentence will be

Software programmers are readying to build applications for the newest version of Windows Phone 7.

I don't find it alright and with a little help from OED, I'd like to explain.

From OED:

verb (readies, readying, readied)

[with object] prepare for an action or purpose:

the spare transformer was readied for shipment

[with object and infinitive] :

she readied herself to speak first

So, as I see it, the word ready can be used as a verb only in the above two cases and in the sentence you quoted, ready can replace gearing up if it takes 'themselves' as object. Then the sentence will be,

Software programmers are readying themselves to build applications for the newest version of Windows Phone 7.

But, I think usage of gearing up here will be more positive and beautiful. Choice of words plays a very important role in conveying the meaning to the readers as well as capturing their minds. Gearing up is an apt choice here.

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  • I agree with FumbleFingers :) Gear up and ready are not always synonymous. – Keerthy Mar 31 '11 at 11:49
  • I agree but I don't think it's totally clear. The problem in the first sentence is that it should be readying themselves, otherwise there is no object. The verb gear up on the other hand, does not require an object. – z7sg Ѫ Mar 31 '11 at 12:08
  • @z7sg - Thanks for the correction, edited my answer :) – Keerthy Mar 31 '11 at 12:27

Using "ready" as an intransitive verb sounds awkward to me:

programmers are readying themselves to...

sounds ok, but

programmers are readying to...

does not. In addition, "gearing up" is computer lingo, along with "spooling up", "spinning up", "firing up", ...

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  • 1
    "gearing up" sounds more like it comes from the military rather than software. – Mitch Mar 31 '11 at 14:08
  • I am willing to bet you are right about that, Mitch...though I would not care to speculate on "firing up". – JeffSahol Mar 31 '11 at 14:46
  • "firing up" sounds like a coal driven engine being prepared. – Mitch Mar 31 '11 at 15:55

No, they are not synonymous. If programmers are gearing up to do this, it means they are actively working on preparations. If they're ready, they may simply be sitting around waiting for a beta release of WP7. Being ready is not the same as making ready.

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  • “ready” is also a verb, in which case the question makes much more sense. – F'x Mar 31 '11 at 13:15
  • Don't understand the downvote. Ready can (rarely) be a verb, but even then it would normally need an object. Programmers are readying themselves is just about ok, though most people would say ...getting ready. But it's often important to distinguish working on becoming ready from actually being ready already (Yiddishism unintended) – FumbleFingers Mar 31 '11 at 13:59

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