Hold up

To "hold something up" is to delay its progress

Today's story: Facebook's currency
Explore more: Lesson #168
Keywords:

Be your best self in English

Move confidently through the English-speaking world

Listen

  • Learning speed
  • Full speed

Learn

TranscriptYour turn
Simple TranscriptEspañol中文FrançaisPortuguês日本語ItalianoDeutschTürkçePolski

Hold up

Today’s phrasal verb is “hold up.” Let me just get one definition out of the way up front. When you rob a bank, you “hold up” a bank. You point a gun, you make them give you the money in the safe. That’s a holdup. That’s not what I want to tell you about.

Instead, if something holds you up, that something delays you. You might hold someone or something else up. Think about a process, it’s on schedule, something goes wrong, there’s a delay. That’s what holds the process up: the thing that causes the delay. Here’s how you heard it earlier. Transfers between banks can get held up. What could possibly hold up an electronic transfer between banks? Here’s one: a government holiday. We have a government holiday like every three weeks in the United States, and banks are closed. So hopefully you don’t want to process a payment on Presidents Day or Veterans Day because if you do, it’ll get held up. It will be delayed.

What’s the holdup here? That’s something you might ask if traffic comes to a standstill. The police might be holding up traffic due to an accident or something ahead. What can hold you up at work? What can delay you at work? The internet could be down, your computer could crash, you might not get a delivery you need, someone might call in sick: all these things might hold you up. These things might delay you in the things you need to do.

I will confess that I used to hold up the process of producing these episodes. JR knows. I was notorious for not writing the episode headlines or summaries that JR needed to produce the web page. I would always write the episode and record it, but I’d forget to do the headlines and the summaries and stuff. So I changed the system to make it easier and more convenient for me…and guess what? I think I’ve only held up the process once—I’ve only delayed the process once—since we switched to the new system. That’s an improvement for me!

Sometimes you can say, “I got held up,” and that’s an excuse for being late. What happened? You were supposed to be here half an hour ago. Oh, I got held up. Oh, okay, well now I understand! I got held up; something delayed me.

Quote of the week

Today is Canada Day, July 1. It commemorates the creation of modern Canada and the adoption of that country’s constitution. So in honor of that, I’ll pick a quote about Canada. It’s from the economist John Maynard Keynes. Here it is: “Canada is a place of infinite promise. We like the people, and if one ever had to emigrate, this would be the destination, not the USA. The hills, lakes and forests make it a place of peace and repose of the mind, such as one never finds in the USA.”

All right, all right: there are some places in the US in which you can find peace and repose of the mind, but I will admit that they are probably fewer than in Canada. All the best quotes about Canada have a little gentle ribbing about the United States in there. We can take it!


Time for my own peace and repose, which is a baseball game on the radio and some good food on my grill—so that’s what I’m headed off to do now. Happy Canada Day, once again. Check us out on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, all under the user name PlainEnglishPod. Say hi, recommend us, leave us a review. Daniel wrote us a review saying we’re one, one, of his favorite web sites. We’ve got our work cut out for us! I’m just joking—thanks Daniel. PlainEnglishPod on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. JR and I will be back on Thursday. See you then!

Learn more expressions like this

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language


Plus+ feature

Write a sentence with this Expression

Get personal, human feedback on the examples that you write. Build the confidence to use this Expression in the real world

Story: Facebook's currency