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See also: souped up



Origin uncertain; the fact that the earlier senses seem to be the horse racing cant[1] and United States Navy slang ones[2] suggests a derivation from soup (liquid food item), connoting a horse or a person being filled with a liquid.

Alternatively, it has been suggested that the term is a modified clipping of supe(r), with reference to an aeroplane or automobile engine being supercharged: see, for example, the 1925 quotation.[3] This sense appears to post-date the horse-racing and navy slang senses.



souped-up (comparative more souped-up, superlative most souped-up)

  1. (horse racing, cant) Of a racehorse: injected with a substance to make it run faster or to change its temperament. [from 19th to early 20th c.]
  2. (road transport, slang) Of an engine, a motor vehicle, etc.: modified for higher performance.
    • 1925 September, “Classified Advertisements”, in H[enry] H[aven] Windsor, editor, Popular Mechanics Magazine, volume 44, number 3, Chicago, Ill.: Popular Mechanics Co., OCLC 506031407, page 33, column 3:
      $600.00 BUYS T. M. Scout with "Souped up" OX5 motor. Snappiest commercial single seater built. H. W. Mackie, Air Service, Houston, Texas.
    • 1933 September 13, “[Appendix: Exhibits] Exhibit No. 343: CWW #35 [Letter to C. W. Webster, Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation]”, in Munitions Industry: Hearings before the Special Committee Investigating the Munitions Industry, United States Senate, Seventy-third Congress [], part 1 (September 4, 5 and 6, 1934: Electric Boat Co.), Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, published 1934, OCLC 1036266476, page 925:
      [W]ill it be possible to mount a larger engine for use in La Paz? I doubt very much if the standard 165 would get off the ground up here with a student. I wish you would take that up with the factory and see if they can put out a job with a suped-up seven-cylinder job. The R-540 I think it is.
    • 1948 August 29, Bert Pierce, “Automobiles: safety; Teen-agers with ‘souped up’ vehicles urged to be careful on Labor Day”, in The New York Times[1], headline:
      AUTOMOBILES: SAFETY; Teen-Agers With ‘Souped Up’ Vehicles Urged to Be Careful on Labor Day
    • 1952 September 8, Milton Lehman, “The First Woman Driver: A.A.A. Honors Motorist Who Got License in 1900, Never Had a Dent”, in Henry R[obinson] Luce, editor, Life, volume 33, number 10, Chicago, Ill.; New York, N.Y.: Time Inc., ISSN 0024-3019, OCLC 34142982, image caption, page 92:
      TALKING SHOP with young hot-rodder friends, Mrs. Bush keeps grandson waiting in his souped-up car [] at Eddie's Market, social center of South Brooksville, Maine (pop. 150), where she is vacationing with daughter.
    • 1989, Irving Louis Horowitz, “Erich Kahler: History and Society in Retrospect”, in Persuasions and Prejudices: An Informal Compendium of Modern Social Science 1953–1988, New Brunswick, N.J.; Oxford, Oxfordshire: Transaction Publishers, →ISBN, page 62:
      The suspicion grows that this souped-up erudition disguises a paucity of thought, which of all things seems to be based on a lack of historical good sense, or, if you will, of good historical sense.
    • 2000, J. S. Kindrick, The Spirit Horses, San Jose, Calif.; Lincoln, Neb.: Writers Club Press, iUniverse, →ISBN, page 118:
      In the drinking that follows that afternoon it is a wonder that no one dies of alcohol poisoning. The final kegs die at around 1800 hours or so, and that is when Coolidge's wife Melanie starts making her souped-up Atomic Kamikazes.
    • 2005 October 9, “Four Robotic Racers Cross Desert”, in BBC News[2], archived from the original on 13 March 2018:
      The vehicles, guided by sophisticated software, gave scientists hope that robots may one day take part in battles without endangering soldiers. The driverless vehicles ranged from souped-up SUVs (sports utility vehicles) to hi-tech dune buggies.
    • 2017 December 1, Tom Breihan, “Mad Max: Fury Road Might Already be the Best Action Movie Ever Made”, in The A.V. Club[3], archived from the original on 22 February 2018:
      He [George Miller] spent nearly 20 years developing the movie, keeping at it through false starts and heartbreaking dead ends. And when he got the chance to make it, he went all in, devising entire societies full of baroquely souped-up death machines and screaming war-cults.
  3. (United States Navy, slang) Drunk, intoxicated.
  4. (US (chiefly Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island), slang) Excited.

Alternative forms[edit]


Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ See, for example, W[illiam] T[orrey] Harris and F. Sturges Allen, editors (1909), “soup”, in Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, Based on the International Dictionary of 1890 and 1900, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam Company, →OCLC; republished Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1930, →OCLC, page 1998, column 3: “soup [] Any material injected into a horse with a view to changing its speed or temperament. Racing Cant.
  2. ^ Our Navy: The Standard Magazine of the United States Navy, volume IX, issue 6, Brooklyn, N.Y.: Our Navy Publishing Co., October 1915, OCLC 852432506, page 41: “On a sight-seeing tour to the great volcano in Hilo, old Jack MacDonald got souped up one time and the bunch left him asleep on the edge of the burning crater.”
  3. ^ soup” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019, retrieved 7 May 2018.