up sticks

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A tall ship participating in the Tall Ships' Races in 2012

Alternative forms[edit]


up + sticks, plural of stick (a mast or part of a mast of a ship; a yard).


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up sticks (third-person singular simple present ups sticks, present participle upping sticks, simple past and past participle upped sticks)

  1. (Britain, sailing, slang) To put up the mast of a ship in preparation for sailing.
  2. (Britain, figurative, colloquial) To prepare to move; to pack up; to go and live in a different place.
    • 1934, George Fletcher MacMunn, The Living India: Its Romance and Realities, London: George Bell & Sons, OCLC 562303188, page 17:
      Both of these conquered more and more of India, till at length the Rajput city of Delhi was captured, and then the disgusted Rajputs ‘upped sticks’ and fled before Islam and the Turk, and finally settled amid the inaccessible mountains and jungles and occasional fertile valleys of what is known as Rajputana or Rajasthan.
    • 1945, James Lansdale Hodson, The Sea and the Land: Being some Account of Journeys, Meetings, and What Was Said to Me in Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Holland between March 1943 and May 1945, London: Victor Gollancz, OCLC 12958259, page 24:
      If a doctor had to do an operation in a sailing ship, you upped sticks and went before the wind, he said.
    • 2012, Jane Rusbridge, Rook, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, →ISBN, page 154:
      Once she starts playing that infernal instrument all hours of the day and night, she can think of nothing else and sooner or later she ups sticks and is gone.
    • 2012 November 2, Philip Ross, Freedom to Freelance: Beginning the Fight against IR35, 3rd edition, [Raleigh, N.C.]: Lulu, →ISBN, page 158:
      For such a strategy to work we needed thousands of contractors to up sticks and leave and I never thought that was going to happen.
    • 2013 February 2, “If in doubt, innovate”, in The Economist[1], archived from the original on 18 March 2016:
      There are too many examples of successful entrepreneurs who have upped sticks and gone elsewhere.
    • 2014, William Forde, “Author's Foreword”, in The Life and Times of Joe Walsh (Tales from Portlaw; 8), [s.l.]: William Forde, published July 2016, →ISBN, page 12:
      For Paddy Groggy, upping sticks and moving elsewhere wasn't a viable option at this stage in his life.

See also[edit]