Origin uncertain; the fact that the earlier senses seem to be the horse racing cant and United States Navy slang ones 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. This sense appears to post-date the horse-racing and navy slang senses.
- (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.]
- (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.
- 2005 October 9, “Four Robotic Racers Cross Desert”, in BBC News, 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, 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.
- (United States Navy, slang) Drunk, intoxicated.
- (US (chiefly Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island), slang) Excited.
- ^ 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 4442008; republished Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1930, OCLC 2742481, page 1998, column 3: “soup […] Any material injected into a horse with a view to changing its speed or temperament. Racing Cant.”
- ^ 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.”
- ^ “soup” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2018, retrieved 7 May 2018.