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act up

To act up does not mean to give a theatrical performance on a raised stage. I suppose you could compose a sentence in which the word up immediately follows the word act in which act up indicates that the actor is performing on a raised stage, but that’s not the normal usage.

To act up means to behave badly. Contrast this with act out, which also means to behave badly, but specifically in response to suppressed negative feelings. Thus, in effect, acting up is a subset of acting out.

This make some sense because, when you think about it, up is a subset is out. Out, in this context, means away from. Up is away from something in one direction, namely above. Even when you don’t think about it, that is still the case.

This is relevant to pretty well no one and nothing, but it did help to fill in the entry on act up, didn’t it? You are probably upset about me dragging you along through this irrelevant nonsense but, please, don’t use it as an excuse to act up.

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