I was just reading something that suggested a very, umm, risqué interpretation of the phrase, "up for it". It made me wonder where and when this phrase actually originated. Does anyone know?

Collins Dictionary limits itself by saying:

(informal) keen or willing to try something out or make a good effort:
it's a big challenge and I'm up for it


It looks likely to be of 19th-century origin. There are a couple of references in sense 10e of the second adverbial meaning of up in the OED.

10e. Bound for (a place); ready for (something). Cf. 19a (d).

1870 H. W. Longfellow John Endicott ii, On board the Swallow,..Up for Barbadoes.

1894 R. D. Blackmore Perlycross I. xvi. 243 Christie was quite up for it. She loved a bit of skirmish.

What were you reading that suggested a risqué interpretation? I have never considered that it was, but I can see why it might be thought to be.

  • Can you include the origin of "down for it" as a bonus in your answer? I'm curious. – NVZ Mar 18 '16 at 9:44
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    You're never up for a bit of slap and tickle? :P – Mari-Lou A Mar 18 '16 at 9:44
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    @Mari-LouA Who isn't? – WS2 Mar 18 '16 at 9:52
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    @NVZ It is not down as a phrase in the OED, but with extensive searching one might find it under a particular sense of down - but it took me over half an hour to find up for it, and right now I'm afraid I'm not up for any more of it. – WS2 Mar 18 '16 at 10:04

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