on uppers


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on (one's) uppers

Having no money; broke. The phrase was originally used to describe people who were so poor that they had worn their shoes down to the uppers (the part of the shoe above the sole). I'm down on my uppers this week, so can we go out for drinks next week, after I get paid? My mother was always slipping money into the hands of our friends she thought were on their uppers.
See also: on, upper

on (one's) uppers

Informal
Impoverished; destitute.
See also: on, upper