I saw an American movie in which one of the characters said to the other "scooch over." Do Americans use "scooch over" to mean "shove up"?

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    Shove up sounds like something obscene.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 16:37
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    The following entries from Merriam-Webster and Oxford Dictionaries seem to indicate that they are synonymous expressions: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shove%20up, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/scooch
    – herisson
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 16:38
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    @tchrist In BrE, the laconic request "Shove up" means "Please make space so that I can sit down." It's a little old-fashioned these days.
    – Mick
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 16:42
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    'Shove up', 'move over', 'budge up' - they're all the same thing, and are used to mean 'I'd like to sit next to you but there isn't room. Move across a little and give me a bit more room'. Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 16:43
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    @Mick I don't see what's old fashioned about it. What in your view has replaced it? I still say "shove up" (or possibly "shove over"). Americans don't know about "shove up", they don't ever have a "fry-up" either. And if "shove-up" is obscene, what's a "cock-up"?
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


The word 'shove' is part of the vocabulary, but we phrase the direction differently.
In the phrase 'shove over' Americans take the 'over' as obviously meaning 'to the side'.
In the phrase 'shove up' BrE speakers take the 'up' as obviously meaning 'to the side'.

The fun part of this is that neither 'over' or 'up' have 'to the side' as their primary meaning. Yet we would be completely caught by surprise if we said 'shove over' or 'shove up' and the person we addressed tried literally moving upwards or moving over us.

In regards to the word 'Scooch', 'Skooch', 'Scootch', & 'Skootch': it's very common, but informal way of saying "move your body" (of course the word 'shove' doesn't really lend itself to a formal setting either...). As with most slang no one really wants to make any authoritative statements on the origin; but it seems clear that it's American and fairly recent.

(This part is completely subjective... I would comfortably use all 3 phrases "scootch over", "scootch forward", or "scootch back". But saying "shove forward" & "shove back" as a direction for a person to move their own body forward or backwards would feel completely alien.)

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    In AmE shove is almost always a transitive verb. You can shove [object], but you can't shove [direction]. "Shove off," meaning "leave" is the only counterexample I can think of. Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 19:50
  • @MikeHarris well... 2 counterexamples counting "shove over". But in regards to transitivity, I'd say that you're correct for both AmE and BrE. Hover since we've already granted a very informal context for the usage, I think we can agree that expecting to hear "shove yourself over" or "shove yourself off" is a bit unrealistic. The object exists... it is merely implied rather than spoken. For that matter scootch is equally transitive, yet I'd expect to hear the 'yourself' omitted. Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 20:21
  • Dear H.R.Rambler, you sir are the sort of noob who would write 'Hover' when he meant 'However'. I've had enough of your ineffable twaddle. Shove off! Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 20:31

To my American ear, "Shove up" would only be used within the context "to shove up against," which connotes being roughly pushed. To ask someone to move over to make more room, such as on a bench, terms that come to my mind include "scootch over," also "move over," "move down," or perhaps with a stranger or in polite company, a simple "excuse me," not "shove up."

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