What does the idiom "be on the up and up" mean?

Are you using the idiom be on the up and up but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the be on the up and up idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "be on the up and up"


The idiom 'be on the up and up' is used to describe an honest, above-board and legitimate situation. It is an indication that a person or situation is trustworthy, reliable and not shady or underhanded.


This phrase likely originates in the nineteenth century. It was first documented in an 1871 publication called The Southern Literary Messenger. The phrase 'on the up and up' may have been also derived from the word 'upright', which was used to describe a person who was honest and respectable.


This phrase is most often used to describe a person's integrity or reliability. It can also be used to describe the legitimacy of a business or other transaction. It can also be used as a way to express positive feelings about a person or situation.

Example Sentences

  • The car dealership was on the up and up and provided a great deal for us.
  • John is on the up and up, so I'm sure I can trust him to do the job.
  • I'm glad the situation is on the up and up so we don't have to worry about it.
  • I trust my accountant to be on the up and up with my finances.

The meanings of the words in the "be on the up and up" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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