Is the sentence "I made up an essay for submission" semantically correct in the sense of writing your own essay? Does the phrasal verb make s.t up always carry the connotation of the made-up thing being fake or disingenuous?

  • "Made up" is an idiom which is, in many contexts, interpreted to mean that you concocted the thing as a fiction. – Hot Licks Oct 22 '16 at 0:36

I'll be honest, my initial reaction to this wording is "ah, don't do that" -- but I did some digging. The OED lists one of the definitions of "to make up" as:

  1. trans. To compose, compile.
    a. To put together in due form; to compile, draw up (a list, document, etc.).
    †b. To compose (a book, sermon). Obs. (Sc. in later use).

Right after this, however, comes the definition on fabricating information. What I'm taking from this is that yes, you could state it that way and technically be correct, but the connotation of the word is negative, so you might actually not want to.

  • 1
    From this definition, I would suggest "composed an essay." Indeed, many writing courses are called "Composition" for this reason. – vpn Oct 21 '16 at 15:48
  • I second @vanderpn on this! – KWade Oct 21 '16 at 16:46

You're right; using make up might give some the impression that the content of your essay is false.

If you want to avoid the usual I wrote an essay, I can of think of a couple of options:

  • I prepared an essay
  • I put together an essay (informal)
  • I penned an essay

Make up certainly has the meaning of fabricating:

When she asked me why I was late, I made up a story about car trouble.

But it has several other meanings as well.

  • To reconcile:

    We had a terrible argument, but we made up the next day.

  • To be composed of:

    Phrasal verbs are made up of a lexical verb and a closely-related preposition.

  • To put together:

    Make up a list of ingredients, and we'll go to the grocery.

  • To fill in a missing and necessary element:

    Everyone at the luncheon was supposed to pay their share, but their contributions weren't enough, and I had to make up the difference.
    One of the bridge players left early, and the host asked me to make up a foursome.
    If you miss the test this Friday, you may make it up next week.

  • With to, as a term of art in chemistry (and related to the above), to fill to a particular volume:

    With a conventional method, 0.2 g of sample is made up to a final volume of 200 ml;

  • With for, to recompense:

    Ten dollars will hardly make up for the trouble you've caused.

  • To decide (with mind)

    Don't argue with me; I've made up my mind.

  • To put in proper condition or order:

    If you call housekeeping, they will be sure to make up your room at the time you direct.

  • To apply makeup:

    She dried her eyes, washed her hands, and made up her face.

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