Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Related to well up: tear up
1. Of a container or vessel, to fill up (with liquid or an emotion) to the point of overflowing. Drainage ditches have been welling up across the city as the heavy rains continue. Her eyes welled up as she watched him walk away. My body welled up with rage at the thought of such a cruel act.
2. Of a liquid or emotion, to fill up (a container or vessel) to the point of overflowing. Water was welling up right to the edge of the sink, but I managed to turn off the taps before any spilled over. Violent protests welled up in the city after the government announced its extreme new policies.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
(from something) and well up (out of something) [for a liquid] to gush or pour up and away from something. The blood welled up from the wound. Clear water welled up out of the rocks. A gusher of muddy water welled up. Tears welled up out of the baby's eyes.
(inside someone) Fig. [for a feeling] to seem to swell and move inside one's body. A feeling of revulsion began to well up inside Fred. Burning resentment welled up, and George knew he was going to lose his temper.
(out of something) Go to well up (from something).
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
To rise to the edge of a container, ready to flow: Lava welled up in the crater. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I did not cry. I could feel anger well up in me.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.