What is the difference between close up and close down? They look like completely different verbs because of the contrast between the words up and down, but they have similar meanings.


There are many idiomatic usages where one word or the other is normally used, but the other would be understood to convey the same meaning. You normally close up a gap, or close down a mine, for instance.

You close up a shop, for example, at the end of every day's trading (then next morning you might open up again). If you close down the shop, the implication is the business is being "wound up", and will not re-open unless someone buys it off you and starts trading afresh.

Normally, close up a debate means to be the last speaker, summarising all that's been said on both sides of the issue. On the other hand, if you close down the debate, that means you (the chairman, for example) unilaterally end the debate by formally ruling out any further discussion.

TL;DR: Where there's a distinction, close down implies something more "final" than "close up".

  • Aside: You could also say business is being "wound down". I once picked corn for a farmer who would say "wind it up!" and meant "work faster!" (as in winding a watch or music box). You can imagine our disappointment when we found this out. – Nicole Aug 30 '11 at 16:32
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    I would say that close up is not necessarily more "final"; instead, I would say it is "complete normally" where close down means "terminated". – Nicole Aug 30 '11 at 16:34
  • If you "wind down" a business, it might still exist indefinitely in a smaller form, so it's a different meaning from "wind up". As when you apply it to a person, who might "wind down" with relaxing music, or be "wound up" by a stressful situation. But if I'd been your farmer, I'd have said "Crank it up!" – FumbleFingers Aug 30 '11 at 16:40
  • And "final" means "terminal", so I don't see what you're getting at there. – FumbleFingers Aug 30 '11 at 16:41
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    @kiraz: As Robusto and myself have indicated, close up and close down are very much idiomatic usages. So I do not think you should read to much into anything said here because it won't really embody any "deep underlying principle" governing how the different words are used. To a considerable extent these are simply random choices, where the one that happens to be heard most often simply tends to get repeated more. – FumbleFingers Aug 30 '11 at 19:39

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