What's the difference between meet up, meet and hook up as a synonym of meet up?

The Free Dictionary has the following definitions:

  • to meet up: to see and talk to someone familiar or someone you do not know: "Let's meet up for drinks after work."
  • to hook up: to meet someone and spend time together: "I was traveling alone, but then I hooked up with another woman about my age."

These definitions are really similar. What is the subtle difference between these three words?


Hook up in common American parlance (among the under forty set) means to engage in sexual acts.

Meet (in this context) and meet up mean meet, that is, connect at a time and place.

  • Yeah, you don't want to say "hook up" if you mean "meet up", that's just awkward.
    – McGarnagle
    Oct 19 '12 at 4:54
  • 1
    Two people can also hook up on Facebook. A drug peddler might hook me up with my weekly supply of crack cocaine. Oct 19 '12 at 6:35
  • 1
    Depends on context. Hooked up can also mean formed (or joined) a team, like in these instances. It doesn't always have a sexual connotation.
    – J.R.
    Oct 19 '12 at 8:47
  • what's the difference between this hook up (without sexual connotation) and meet up?
    – user42912
    Oct 19 '12 at 9:46
  • This says two people begin doing something together. Two other suggestions by coleopterist and J.R. I would avoid it because of ambiguity unless you were explicit about the nature of the hook-up.
    – bib
    Oct 19 '12 at 12:03

As the question wants to know the differences in meaning when hook up is taken as a synonym for meetup, I'll ignore the sexual act connotations of hook up (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hookup_culture).

'Meet' has a stronger likelihood to mean 'meet for the first time,' and is slightly more likely to refer to a couple or small number of people gathering. 'Meet up' emphasizes a group coming from different places to the same place. The latter is strengthened by the meetup.com service which has turned meetup into a noun, sometimes amongst strangers bonding together over a common interest in politics, technology or other shared interests, often on a regular basis that engenders a community.

'Meet' is in a slightly higher register of language and formality than 'meet up', and 'hook up' is lower than both. Hook up can also mean one person putting a second in touch with a third for the purposes of getting something.

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