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I'm watching "The Great British Baking Show" and I heard a host use the phrase "It's hotting up." Later, a contestant said it was "heating up".

It seems they both meant something similar, but did they mean the exact same thing?

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They are both idiomatic in Britain. Hotting up can be and is sometimes applied to the weather too.

On a cloudless July morning where high temperatures are expected, someone might say "It's hotting up out there". Indeed, in that context it would be more usual than saying "It's heating up out there".

The OED recognises the use of "hot" as a verb, from the 13th century and before.

  1. trans. To heat. Also fig. Now chiefly in to hot up 1a at Phrasal verbs.

a1225 (▸?a1200) MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 109 (MED), Þe sunne..þincheð ful of hete, for þat hat alle þing þe on eorðe wecseð.

c1475 (▸1392) Surg. Treat. in MS Wellcome 564 f. 71 (MED), So þat it be wel hate at þe fier.

1561 J. Hollybush tr. H. Brunschwig Most Excellent Homish Apothecarye f. 7, Take two tyles that be hoted.

1610 J. Healey tr. J. L. Vives in tr. St. Augustine Citie of God xviii. xiii. 680 Pelethronian Lapiths gaue the bit, And hotted rings.

1622 G. Markham & W. Sampson Herod & Antipater iv. i, His sicknesse Madam rageth like a Plague, Once hotted neuer cured.

1847–78 J. O. Halliwell Dict. Archaic & Provinc. Words Hot, to heat, or make hot. Notts.

1881 Society 2 Feb. Water hotted and a steaming bowl of punch prepared.

1952 S. Selvon Brighter Sun ix. 188 Urmilla went to hot the food.

1978 ‘J. Gash’ Gold from Gemini 34, I peeled two spuds and hotted the oil.

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    Can't say I've ever heard 'hotting up' used in relation to the weather. I think I t's almost exclusively used to mean 'getting more interesting/tense/competitive.' – jst345 Apr 15 '17 at 22:28
  • @jst345 Don't you ever "hot up" some leftover food from the day before? – WS2 Oct 13 '18 at 7:27
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    Not knowingly! I've always 'heated up' leftovers. – jst345 Oct 19 '18 at 12:04
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According to Google's dictionary, hot is an informal British verb whose meaning is the same as heat up.

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