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Why Do We “Give It Up?”

I’ve heard it too many times, including the other day:

“Give it up for …!”

Whenever I hear it, I want to ask, “What’s it, and why are we giving it up?”

Then the person continues by naming somebody: Give it up for Joe!

So, I ask, “Why would I give it up for Joe, and why does Joe want it?”

We know that it’s a slang phrase asking us to applaud for somebody, related to “Put your hands together for…” (but that doesn’t make sense, either, because when you put you hands together, you’re not applauding).

I went looking online to see if I could find the origin, and I found a few stories told on several sites:

First, that Arsenio Hall popularized it on his 1989-94 nighttime talk show. That’s probably true.

Several sources cite the Oxford English Dictionary’s first reference, a Usenet newsgroup in a posting from March 1990: “Hey folks, let’s give it up for Andy! One huge round of applause please!”

One source (one of those user question-and-answer sites) says that audiences that didn’t applaud were considered stingy, so being asked to give it (applause) up means to clap.

On that same site came this:

The term “give up” originated during the medieval times. When the enemies would approach the castle, the drawbridge needed to be drawn. This required the motion of pulling down on the chains. The fellow knights would shout “don’t give up, don’t give up” in order to instruct their peers to pull down as much as they could.

The reverse side of this was when they wanted to welcome someone into the castle. In this case, they would yell “give it up”. Allowing someone into the castle only occurred when welcoming a warrior, or someone of high status. Therefore give it up came to be a means of celebrating someone.

I would like to believe this, except that right after this comment was another comment:

“Ingenious, if not very plausible. But if you want to be taken seriously, you need some sort of evidence or authority.”

I give up.

Until next time! Use the right words!


May 13, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,

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