jack up

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  • Sense of “hoist with a jack” is from 1885; then, “increase prices, etc.” (1904, American English); both ultimately from noun jack (mechanical device used to raise heavy objects)
  • “Screw up, mess up” sense derived from, or influenced by fuck up, as a bowdlerization; also possibly influenced by jacked up (high, intoxicated)
  • First dialectal idiomatic meaning: “abandon, give up” (1873), possibly a corruption of chuck up, as chuck up the sponge (“give up, concede, give token of submission”)


  • (file)


jack up (third-person singular simple present jacks up, present participle jacking up, simple past and past participle jacked up)

  1. To raise, hoist, or lift a thing using a jack, or similar means.
    He jacked the car up to change the tire
    The oil rig can be jacked up higher when the hydraulic legs touch the sea floor.
    • 1907, United States Circuit Courts of Appeals Reports, Volume 82, page 433,
      Nor was there any proof that they had been improperly used in jacking up the end of the car.
    • 1916, Engineering and Contracting, Volume 45, page 113,
      From this time forward the overhang to the east of the center row was carried entirely on the clay, the shoring screws from the G and H piers having been removed to assist in jacking up at the west side.
    • 1962 September, P. Ransome-Wallis, “The Talgo trains of Spain”, in Modern Railways, page 179:
      When alteration of train formation is necessary, coupling and uncoupling of sections is carried out by jacking up the front end of each section so that the socket of the drawbar is lifted clear of the pin of the drawbar of the section ahead.
    • 1987 August, A. K. Hamlin, letter to Homeowners′ Clinic, Popular Mechanics, page 109,
      How can I secure them without jacking up the whole house to get the bolts in?
  2. (informal) To raise, increase, or accelerate; often said of prices, fees, or rates.
    I can't believe they're going to jack up the price of gasoline again — and after they already raised it twenty cents a gallon!
  3. (colloquial) To ruin; wreck; mess up; screw up; sometimes as a bowdlerized substitution for fuck up.
    I'm not letting him use my computer again; he always jacks it up.
  4. (obsolete, transitive and intransitive, dialect, West Country and Australia) To give up; to abandon (something, e.g. a job, contract)
    Synonyms: jig up, throw up, chuck up, discontinue, jack in
    • 1881?, Garnet Walch, A Little Tin Plate, Google Books
      Says I, “Let's jack up, man alive, / An' try further down on the Creek!” / “All right!” says my mate, “but we'll drive / Right an' left to the end of this week.”
    • 1888, Rolf Boldrewood, Robbery Under Arms, chapter 19, Google Books
      Not but what I'd had a lot to bear, and took a deal of punishment before he jacked up.
    • 1900, John Strange Winter, A Self-Made Countess: The Justification of a Husband, page 201 alternate source
      “I don't think I shall enter for the Point to Point this year, because we're going to jack up.”
      “Going to jack up what?” asked one, while the others looked up enquiringly.
      “We're going to jack up the Service. […]”
  5. (New Zealand) To organise something.
  6. (basketball, colloquial) To shoot, especially in the context of a poor shot opportunity.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Usually, the object may appear before or after the particle (jack up the car or jack the car up)
  • If the object is a pronoun, then it must come before the particle (jack it up, not jack up it)


See also[edit]


  • For sense: “obsolete, dialectal: to give up, abandon”
    • “Jack up”, in A Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect, by William Douglas Parish, 1875, page 63
    • “Jack-up”, in Leicestershire Words, Phrases, and Proverbs, by Arthur Benoni Evans, et al., English Dialect Society, 1881, page 177
    • “Jack up”, in The West Somerset Word-Book, by Frederick Thomas Elworthy, English Dialect Society, 1886, page 377
    • “Jack, Jack up”, in The Folk-Speech of South Cheshire, by Thomas Darlington, English Dialect Society, 1887, page 229
    • “Jack up”, in A Glossary of Words Used in the Neighbourhood of Sheffield, by Sidney Oldall Addy, English Dialect Society, 1888, page 118
    • “Jack up”, in Dictionary of the Slang-English of Australia and of Some Mixed Languages, by Karl August Lentzner, 1892, page 26
    • “Jack up”, in Slang and Its Analogues Past and Present, by John Stephen Farmer, et al., 1896, page 26