I have always used "punch up" in the context of reminding or prodding someone for something such as:

"I just punched up Jane that she needs to turn in her vacation schedule"

When I used this expression recently, my slightly younger colleague said he'd never heard it before...so I looked it up.

There is...

  • "punch out" for hitting someone

  • "punched" as in a time clock

  • "punched up" which refers to improving one's writing

  • "punch up, not punch down" as a reminder to not use comedy to be cruel to the oppressed

...but I can't find a single example online nor in Google Books for "punch up" or "punched up" as a reminder.

I'm in the US and have been in the workforce since 1978 - can the expression be completely extinct? Does anyone have any idea whether that expression was ever used by anyone other than me?

  • 2
    Hit me up if you get a good response to this question. Mar 4, 2015 at 23:00
  • > can the expression be completely extinct? Yes it can, and yes it is.
    – aaa90210
    Mar 4, 2015 at 23:43
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    @Kristina Lopez I had never heard punch up used that way - and I am far more dinosaurian than you are. A punch-up to us is a fight. He got involved in a punch-up with some opposing supporters at the football match.
    – WS2
    Mar 5, 2015 at 0:30
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    I've never heard it used, except briefly after dial phones disappeared and "dial up" changed to "punch up". But that didn't have the same "punch" to it, I suppose, and fell into disuse.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 5, 2015 at 0:58
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    If I had been the slightly younger colleague who’d heard you say that, I would probably have done two things: 1) go check on Jane to see if she’s okay and not too badly bruised; and 2) made sure my own vacation schedule was handed in very quickly and on time. Mar 11, 2015 at 15:29

2 Answers 2


I have heard this phrase used before, however it is a bit archaic now as the word punch has quite violent connotations.

The words generally used now are prod or poked, but I think even they are going out of fashion.

I just prodded/poked Jane, she needs to turn in her vacation schedule.

This is probably because they all imply inappropriate touching.

Also, it is very similar to the modern slang of punching up or punching, which is short for the idiom punching above your weight.

This means to be in a relationship with someone who appears to be much more attractive/successful, which obviously is entirely unrelated to reminding someone of something.

  • Thanks Mike...I was starting to believe the phrase was the invention from mine or hubby's mind. The other use of punch up is new to me and I learned something new! :-) Mar 11, 2015 at 12:35

Although “punch up” as a reminder may be unfamiliar, the term “punch list” is in regular use in the construction industry. It refers to items the contractor needs to complete before full payment is made.

See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punch_list.

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