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add up

There are at least two definitions of add up. I’m sure that everyone who knows how to do arithmetic addition is familiar with one definition. Add up means to compute the total of two or more numbers.

If you don’t know how to do arithmetic addition I mocked you roundly in the entry on the word add. If, even after being vehemently chastised for your lack of numeracy, you couldn’t be bothered to learn how to do arithmetic, don’t expect me to help you here.

The other definition of add up is probably familiar to everyone who speaks English. If that’s not you then you’re probably having a tough time with this Web site. There’s not much I can do about that.

If you do speak English, but you don’t know this meaning of add up then you might want to brush up on idioms, because I believe it’s used in all English-speaking countries. Make know mistake about it. Beyond having a good literal vocabulary, knowing the meaning of idioms is also very important. Otherwise, you might get the wrong idea when people tell you you made a cock-up of something. Hint: It rarely has anything directly to do with penises.

This second definition of add up is to make sense.

In this case, add up is probably used more frequently in the negative than in the positive. For example, one might say, “The politician’s explanation as to why he was leaving a seedy motel room with a voluptuous, half-naked woman doesn’t add up.” That statement would probably be followed with something to the effect of, “lucky bastard.” Alright, maybe that’s just what I would say, not what most people would say.

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