I know this is kinda stupid but what is the word for "helping someone climb by allowing him to stand on your hands" (to allow him/her see above some wall or climb something)?

  • More details: it usually implies clenching both your hands to allow someone put his foot on.
    – Omar Ali
    Dec 20, 2010 at 11:45
  • I'm not sure there's a single English word for it; I know we have one for it in Slovenian. And Google Translate doesn't know how to translate the said word, which is more evidence from my end that such a word does not exist in English. Dec 20, 2010 at 11:58
  • …so what is the word for it in Slovenian? I know this isn’t slovenian.stackexchange.com, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I can’t help being curious!
    – PLL
    Dec 20, 2010 at 16:41
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    @PLL: while you're waiting, I'll try to keep you entertained by presenting you with the German word: Räuberleiter ("looters' ladder"). It even has an article on the German Wikipedia.
    – RegDwigнt
    Dec 21, 2010 at 1:14
  • 1
    Our word "ravbarska" is actually derived from Räuberleiter, or rather, "ravbar" comes from the German word for thief Räuber and -ska makes it an adjective, then common usage makes it a nounified adjective. Dec 25, 2010 at 15:11

6 Answers 6


Per Wiktionary, the word you are searching for is to give so. a leg up.

Leg up: the act of assisting another's progress over a wall or other obstacle by forming a step for one of their feet with one's hands


To boost or give someone a boost may work well, depending on how formal the context.

At least in American English, giving someone a leg up often is used in a more metaphorical sense, as in giving someone an advantage of some kind which is not necessary physical, so this phrase may confuse some readers if you are actually referring to the physical act of lifting someone up.

  • “To (give someone a) boost” also gets used figuratively. I wouldn’t have thought it would be clearer?
    – PLL
    Dec 20, 2010 at 16:42
  • 3
    Indeed, in the UK, I would not understand "give someone a boost" as having this literal meaning.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 20, 2010 at 17:30
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    Indeed, in the US, I would not necessarily understand "give someone a boost" as having this literal meaning, though that is certainly one of its possible uses.
    – Marthaª
    Dec 20, 2010 at 17:42
  • 1
    Yes, I also agree the "boost" has the metaphorical meaning. However, I would never use "a leg up" in the physical sense--to me, it only has a metaphorical meaning, while "boost" for me has both.
    – Rosey28
    Dec 21, 2010 at 7:01

I will throw in bunk-up for good measure, the complete expression being to give someone a bunk-up. I have only ever heard it in a movie or two. Wiktionary marks it as UK, perhaps someone from the US can comment on whether it would be understood there as well.

  • 3
    When I hear bunk up, I think sleep in the same room. This would be used for times when there are multiple beds in the room (hotel rooms, vacation homes, etc.) to describe who should share which rooms. It does not necessarily imply sharing the bed. I would say this phrase is used quite informally in the American English context.
    – Rosey28
    Dec 20, 2010 at 13:04
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    I don't recognise "bunk-up" in the context of the question. (UK reader)
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 20, 2010 at 17:29

In N.E. England, we always used the term "bunk up".

Give me a bunk up so I can get the ball back.

Searching the web, this now seems to have sexual connotations in some contexts though.

I've also heard "leg up" & "boost".

  • Leg-up is what I would instinctively say, possibly through AmE influence (?). I don't recall hearing bunk-up from AmE speakers, at least, so I'd suspect there may be a dialectal difference here. Dec 19, 2014 at 13:02

"Hey Felix, could you give me a boost?"

When uttered in front a wall or tree, this will normally produce the hand-clasping you describe. The hand-clasping technique is not the only way to boost someone, but it certainly seems the default in this situation. That said, as someone gains a handhold and manages to haul themselves up a reasonable way but still lacks a foothold, we sometimes shift to the awkward bum-push technique.

boost (noun): an upward thrust or push (He gave him a boost over the wall.)

Also used as a very, as in:

"Hey Felix, can you boost me up?"

boost (transitive verb): to raise or lift by pushing up from below (He boosted me over the wall.)

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Definitions from www.thefreedictionary.com.


"Could you give me a leg up" is used not only for help getting on a horse, but over a fence, or to any higher elevation.

"Give me a boost" is not used in the horse situation, except by people extremely ignorant of the term leg up, which, by the way, is used from Texas to Canada.

In AmE, at least, bunk up means to sleep in the same bed, as in "who are ya gonna bunk up with?" I am unfamiliar with its English usage to mean boost.

So, in short, "give me a boost" would be the most common phrase. In AmE to answer the OPs actual question.

  • Your conclusion kind of contradicts your first two paragraphs… (And of your comment about New England was related to Ste’s answer, note that he wrote N.E. England, i.e., northeastern England.) Dec 19, 2014 at 13:27

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