The following passage is taken from an article in the Financial Times, titled "Shinzo Abe will not revive Japan by rewriting history."

When the Japanese prime minister tips up at the next month's meeting of the Group of Eight advanced industrial nations, it is a fair bet his fellow summiteers will want to get to know him.

Emphasis mine. What does the phrase I have put in italics mean? Does it have anything to do with football?

  • 1
    Well, I was going to point to a dictionary reference, but ODO at least doesn't include tip up as a verb. The Free Dictionary doesn't help much. And it doesn't appear to be in OED either. Wow.
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 6, 2015 at 11:17
  • Well, in Minnesota a "tip up" is a sort of fishing rod that sits over a hole in the ice and "tips up" when a fish bites. But somehow I'm guessing that's not the sense intended. (I would guess it's just a cute way to say "shows up".)
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 6, 2015 at 11:35
  • From the context, it clearly means shows up. But I've never heard it used this way. Is it a British colloquialism?
    – Barmar
    Apr 6, 2015 at 19:24
  • No, I've never heard it in the UK. Apr 7, 2015 at 6:31
  • @DavidGarner I have, but not often and not recently.
    – BoldBen
    Jul 14, 2017 at 10:35

2 Answers 2


Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (1984) offers two definitions of "tip up," but neither seems at all relevant to the quoted situation:

tip up. To hand over, 'fork out', esp. money: low:—1859 ... 2. To hold out; low and nautical:—1887. Esp. as in Baumann, tip up your fist (or fin), reach or give me your hand!, shake hands!

As Barmar says in a comment above, the context of the phrase "tips up" in the OP's question indicates that its intended meaning is "shows up." However, if this usage is idiomatic in the UK or elsewhere, it hasn't yet become widespread in published print writing. Google Books searches for the phrases "tip up at," "tips up at," "tipped up at," and "tipping up at" uncover exactly two on-point matches. From Fiona Parashar, The Balancing Act (2005):

People will always look upwards for direction, and if that upwards is constantly changing it ids confusing and can cause people top become disconnected from the reason they turn up to work every day. Then it really is an awful virus, and it does slowly kill people off mentally. Unconnected to the meaning of their work, to their new role, or their new goals, the energy ebbs away, until the shell of a human tips up at work each day and emptily carries out its task. The rich dynamism of a challenging and engaged worker suddenly seems a rare thing.

And from Miranda Glover, Soulmates (2007):

The war in Iraq rumbled on, but now Israel was fighting Hezbollah in the south of Lebanon, too, and the region seemed set for a period of even greater instability, of civilian carnage. Will followed the news eagerly, seemed energized by the escalation of violence and spent countless hours with Ralph, discussing the latest attacks, calculating their impact, economically, environmentally and, most significantly, from a humanitarian perspective. He was tipping up at Polly's place later and later at night and she noticed that he was drinking more. Many days could go by when he no longer mentioned Emi.

I ran a second set of searches for "tip/tips/tipped/tipping up in" and found two additional matches. From Robert Ashton, Waking Up in London (2003) [snippet]:

Then he tipped up in London. A straight job here, drumming in bands there. He worked on the Observer, then a band looked like it would work out. But it didn't. 'When I came to London in 1983, I found myself playing a lot of straight-ahead jazz, ...

And from Gabrielle Mander, Just Write: The Virgin Guide to Telling Your Story (2007):

This zone had not been her intended destination when they had turned the time key that morning. ... However, something had evidently gone awry. She had intended for them to spend the day in around 2050, when the emissions had at last been cleared and the atmosphere was fit to breathe again. She had not expected to tip up in 2020, when the world put the chaos back into chaos theory.

Notwithstanding the Americanized spelling "energized" in Glover's excerpt, Soulmates was "First published in Great Britain," according to the book's copyright page; the other three books appear to have been published only in the UK. So it seems that "tips up" is a British idiom of fairly recent vintage (all four Google Books matches are from 2003 or later) that can be used with at or in (and possibly other prepositions) and has the meaning "shows up" or "pops up."

  • Or Oxfordized or Oxoniated. :) In any event, a recent origin abroad might go some ways towards explaining why I’ve never heard such a thing before — which I had not, before encountering this question.
    – tchrist
    Apr 7, 2015 at 11:19

That particle phrasal verb tipped up in a couple of technology news articles, supporting the meaning equivalent to "showed up":

Broadcom and Qualcomm announce chips for Android 4.0 and Windows 8

Broadcom, a firm that spent an hour of our time at Mobile World Congress (MWC) last year not allowing us to ask questions directly to its technical folk, tipped up at the show with single-core and dual-core implementations of ARM Cortex A9 processors.

AMD A8-7650K tips up in Euroland

Not bad for €100

A new Kaveri desktop SKU has tipped up in the European channel and the A8-7650K appears to offer good value for money.

Also here

Royal wedding

The best moment for me was when Katie Couric (I was with CBS at Buckingham Palace) thought the King of Tonga was Mohamed Al Fayed and informed the United States that Dodi's dad had tipped up unexpectedly – she quickly corrected herself.

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