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a stiff upper lip
The ability to remain stoic during difficult situations. Despite all of the hardships he faced, John always kept a stiff upper lip and didn't let anything bother him. The players were devastated after losing the championship, but their coach encouraged them to keep a stiff upper lip and focus on doing better next year.
be (down) on (one's) uppers
1. To have no money; to be 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). This usage includes a pronoun between "on" and "uppers," and can include "down" between "be" and "on." Primarily heard in UK. I am down on my uppers this week, so can we go out for dinner next week, after I get paid?
2. slang To be on stimulant drugs. In this usage, the set phrase is "be on uppers." My son has been acting really weird and says he's been awake for days, so I'm worried that he's on uppers.
down 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 am down on my uppers this week, so can we go out for drinks next week, after I get paid?
gain the upper hand
To come to be in a position of advantage, power, and/or control (over someone, something, or some situation). We've been doing everything we can for your father, but I'm afraid the cancer is gaining the upper hand. The home team gained the upper hand when their opponents' star quarterback went out with an injury.
get the upper hand
To come to be in a position of advantage, power, and/or control (over someone, something, or some situation). We've been doing everything we can for your father, but I'm afraid the cancer is getting the upper hand. The home team got the upper hand when their opponents' star quarterback went out with an injury.
get the upper hand on (someone or something)
To come to be in a position of advantage, power, or control over someone, something, or some situation. We've been doing everything we can for your father, but I'm afraid the cancer is getting the upper hand on him. The home team got the upper hand on their opponents when their star quarterback went out with an injury.
have the upper hand
To have a position of advantage, power, and/or control (over someone, something, or some situation). The home team had the upper hand when their opponents' star quarterback went out with an injury. We've been doing everything we can for your father, but I'm afraid the cancer has the upper hand now.
keep a stiff upper lip
To remain stoic during difficult situations. Despite all of the hardships he faced, John always kept a stiff upper lip and didn't let anything bother him. The players were devastated after losing the championship, but their coach encouraged them to keep a stiff upper lip and focus on doing better next year.
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.
1. A stimulant of some kind; that which quickly imparts energy and alertness. I find that yerba mate tea is a much better pepper-upper than coffee—it gives you the same boost, without making you feel jittery or on-edge.
2. Something that increases enthusiasm, optimism, or eagerness. I hate these public speakers they bring in—they're meant to be pepper-uppers, but they just come across as totally phony to me.
the upper crust
The most affluent, powerful, or influential class in a society; the social elites or aristocrats. Hyphenated if used as a modifier before a noun. The awards ceremony was a chance for me to mingle with the upper crust. For years, tax laws have been specifically designed to favor the upper crust before the working or lower class.
the upper hand
A position of advantage, power, and/or control (over someone, something, or some situation). Typically used after the verbs "have," "gain," or "get." The home team got the upper hand when their opponents' star quarterback went out with an injury. We've been doing everything we can for your father, but I'm afraid the cancer is gaining the upper hand. The two companies were neck and neck for years, but Mayers International seems to have the upper hand in the markets lately.
1. Literally, a higher or the highest level of a building. The executives all have their offices in the top stories of the sky scraper. We converted the top story into a standalone apartment that we rent out.
2. The brain; one's ability to think, understand, and rationalize. He's attractive, all right, but I don't think there's much going on in the top story. I never felt like I had a strong enough of an top story to do a master's degree.
1. Literally, a higher or the highest level of a building. The executives all have their offices in the upper stories of the skyscraper. We converted the upper story into a standalone apartment that we rent out.
2. The brain; one's ability to think, understand, and rationalize. He's attractive, all right, but I don't think there's much going on in the upper story. I never felt like I had a strong enough of an upper story to do a master's degree.
Of or relating to the most affluent, powerful, or influential class in a society. The upper-crust awards ceremony was a chance for me to see high society up close for a night. Those upper-crust tax breaks will never be extended to working people like us.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Keep a stiff upper lip.
Prov. Act as though you are not upset.; Do not let unpleasant things upset you. (English people are stereotypically supposed to be very good at keeping a stiff upper lip.) Even though he was only three years old, Jonathan kept a stiff upper lip the whole time he was in the hospital recovering from his surgery. Jill: Sometimes this job frustrates me so much I could just break down in tears. Jane: Keep a stiff upper lip. Things are bound to improve.
top storyand upper story
Sl. the brain; one's mind and intellect. A little weak in the upper story, but other than that, a great guy. He has nothing for a top story.
Fig. the higher levels of society; the upper class. (From the top, as opposed to the bottom, crust of a pie.) Jane speaks like that because she pretends to be from the upper crust, but her father was a miner. James is from the upper crust, but he is penniless.
*upper hand (on someone)
Fig. a position superior to someone; the advantage of someone. (*Typically: get ~; have ~; give someone ~.) John is always trying to get the upper hand on someone. He never ends up having the upper hand, though.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
keep a stiff upper lip
Show courage in the face of pain or adversity. For example, I know you're upset about losing the game, but keep a stiff upper lip. This expression presumably alludes to the trembling lips that precede bursting into tears. [Early 1800s]
on one's uppers
Poor, in reduced circumstances, as in as in The Smiths try to hide the fact that they're on their uppers. First recorded in 1886, this metaphoric term alludes to having worn out the soles of one's shoes so badly that only the top portions remain.
The highest social class, as in She wanted badly to be one of the upper crust but it wasn't going to happen. This term alludes to the choicest part of a pie or loaf of bread. [First half of 1800s]
Also, whip hand. A dominating or controlling position, as in Once you let Jeff get the upper hand there'll be no stopping him, or When it comes to checkers, my son-in-law generally has the whip hand. The first term alludes to an ancient game in which each player in turn grasps a stick with one hand, beginning from the bottom, and the last who can put his hand at the top wins. Its figurative use dates from the late 1400s. The variant alludes to the driver who holds the whip in a horse-drawn vehicle; it was being used figuratively by the late 1600s.
The head or brain, as in He's not all there in the upper story. This expression transfers the literal sense of a higher floor in a multistory building to the top portion of the human body. Richard Bentley used it in A Dissertation on the Epistles of Phalaris (1699), where he compares a man with "brains ... in his head" to a man who has "furniture in his upper story."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
the upper crust
The upper crust are the people who belong to the highest social class. The Cowes Regatta is a gathering of the wealthy and the upper crust who race their huge yachts and attend grand parties.
the upper hand
1. If someone has the upper hand, they have the most power and control in a situation. Most people who knew the couple agreed that Franzen had the upper hand in the relationship. Diplomats believe it is still far from clear which side is gaining the upper hand in the economic debate.
2. If a feeling or emotion gets the upper hand, you are not able to hide it or control it. Dan was breathing in short, sharp bursts as the tension and his exasperation gained the upper hand.
a stiff upper lip
COMMON If someone has a stiff upper lip, they hide their emotions and do not let other people see if they are upset. I had always believed in keeping a stiff upper lip, crying in private, and putting on my best face for family and friends. His pathetic attempt to maintain a stiff upper lip failed. Note: You can also refer to the attitude or behaviour of people who do not like to show their emotions as the stiff upper lip. Another problem is the British stiff upper lip which prevents many patients from asking for painkillers for fear of appearing weak. Note: Not showing emotions is thought to be a national characteristic of the English.
on your uppersor
down on your uppersBRITISH, INFORMAL, OLD-FASHIONED
If a person or a company is on their uppers or down on their uppers, they have very little money. The company is on its uppers and shareholders can forget about receiving dividends for a couple of years. Simon pays cash for his ceramics because he finds so many potters are down on their uppers. Note: The upper of a shoe is the top part of it, which is attached to the sole and heel. If you are on your uppers, you have worn through the sole and heel.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a stiff upper lipa quality of uncomplaining stoicism.
This is a characteristic particularly associated with the British but the phrase is apparently North American in origin, dating back to the mid 19th century. It is used, for example, in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, published in 1852 .
1998 Spectator The Princess…as her final gift to the British people, had unstarched their stiff upper lips.
have (or gain) the upper handhave (or gain) advantage or control over someone or something.
on your uppersextremely short of money. informal
In this expression, worn-out shoes are taken as an indication of someone's poverty; the upper is the part of a shoe above the sole, which is all that is left after the sole has been worn away.
the upper crustthe aristocracy and upper classes. informal
In Anne Elizabeth Baker 's Glossary of Northamptonshire Words and Phrases ( 1854 ) ‘Mrs Upper Crust’ is explained as the nickname for ‘any female who assumes unauthorized superiority’. The term was also current in informal American speech in the mid 19th century. The French word gratin has a similar pair of literal and metaphorical senses, being literally ‘a crust of crumbs and cheese on top of a cooked dish’ and metaphorically ‘the highest class of society’.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
(keep) a stiff upper ˈlipkeep calm and hide your feelings when you are in pain or in a difficult situation: The English gentleman is famous for his stiff upper lip.
get, have, gain, etc. the ˌupper ˈhand (over somebody)get, etc. power or control over somebody, especially in a fight, competition, etc: Our team gained the upper hand in the second half of the match. ♢ The police claim they have the upper hand in their fight against the drug dealers.
the ˌupper ˈcrust(informal) people who are in the highest social classIn the past, the top or upper crust of a loaf of bread was the best part, which the more important members of the household ate.
on your ˈuppers(British English, informal) having very little money: Joe paid for lunch, which was great because we were both on our uppers, as usual. OPPOSITE: (be) rolling in it/money Uppers refers to the top part of a boot or shoe. If you are walking on your uppers, your shoes are old and worn down.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
n. an amphetamine tablet or capsule; a pep pill. I need me a little pepper-upper. Can I have a prescription?
top storyand upper story
n. the brain. I don’t think her top story is occupied. A little weak in the upper story, but other than that, a great guy.
See top story
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
keep a stiff upper lip
To be courageous or stoic in the face of adversity.
on (one's) uppersInformal
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
keep a stiff upper lip, to
Do not give way to adversity; appear to be resolute and stoical without showing your true feelings. This term comes from America in the early 1800s and presumably refers to a trembling lip, which betrays that one is about to burst into tears. The expression actually does not make much sense, since it is usually the lower lip that trembles before weeping, but certainly any tremor of the upper lip would be particularly obvious in a man wearing a mustache, in the ubiquitous fashion of the 1830s. “What’s the use of boohooin’? . . . keep a stiff upper lip,” appeared in John Neal’s The Down-Easters (1833), and the expression soon crossed the Atlantic.
upper crust, the
An older name for high society. This term appears to have been coined by Thomas Haliburton in his Sam Slick tales. “It was none of your skim-milk parties, but superfine uppercrust,” he wrote (The Clockmaker, 1835). By 1850 others were using the term, which alluded to the choicest part of a pie or loaf of bread. “Those families, you know, are our upper crust, not upper ten thousand” wrote James Fenimore Cooper (Ways of the Hour, 1850). The term is heard less often nowadays but is not quite obsolete.
See also: upper
upper hand, to have the
To be in a dominating or controlling position. This term has been around since the fifteenth century. It comes from an ancient gambling game in which each player in turn puts one hand on a stick, beginning at the bottom, and the last one able to put his hand at the top wins. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer has it, “Up, Lord, and let not man have the upper hand” (from Miles Coverdale’s translation of Psalm 9:19).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
down on his uppers
Needy; fallen on hard times. Men's shoes have two parts: the bottoms (soles and heels) and the uppers, which cover the foot. Someone whose financial condition was so bad that he couldn't afford to have the soles and heels replaced after being worn away was literally down on (in the sense of “to”) his uppers. A similar phrase is “down at the heels,” and moving higher, “out at the elbows.”
The top level of society. Although you might think that “crust” refers to bread and that the upper part was reserved for the aristocracy, word detectives would say you're wrong: no authoritative written connection between bread and the well-bred can be found. “Crust” refers to the earth's crust, or top layer. The upper crust of a society is its top layer.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price