Origin of holdup
Words nearby holdup
What does holdup mean?
A holdup is a delay or something that causes a delay.
It’s frequently used in the phrase What’s the holdup?—meaning “What’s the cause of the delay?”
Holdup can also refer to a kind of robbery, typically in which the robber takes a person’s money by stopping them and threatening them with a weapon, especially a gun. In this sense, a holdup is also called a stickup.
In both cases, the word is sometimes spelled hold-up.
The phrase hold up can be used as a verb meaning to delay, to cause a delay, or to rob someone in a holdup. (It also has several other meanings.)
Example: I asked him what the holdup was, and he told me that he was waiting for the designer to deliver the images.
Where does holdup come from?
The first records of holdup come from the 1800s in the United States, where it is primarily used. Both senses of holdup are based on the phrasal verb hold up. When it refers to a robbery, holdup is a reference to the robber’s usual demand for the victim to hold their hands up. (The same thing is true for the very close synonym stickup).
The word holdup is typically applied to robberies in which the victim is an individual person on the street or a clerk at a retail store. Stickup is used in the same way, but it’s even more informal—it sounds more like something out of an old movie.
When holdup is used in the context of a delay, it can refer to the delay itself (as in A lack of drivers is causing a holdup in deliveries) or the thing causing the delay—the thing holding things up (as in We need to find out what the holdup is so we can eliminate it and prevent further delays).
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to holdup?
- hold-up (alternate spelling)
- holdups (plural)
What are some synonyms for holdup?
What are some words that share a root or word element with holdup?
What are some words that often get used in discussing holdup?
What are some words holdup may be commonly confused with?
How is holdup used in real life?
Holdup is usually used informally. When used in reference to a delay, it sometimes implies annoyance that there is a delay.
Yo @ sweater weather what's the holdup? Stuck in bad traffic or what???
— Savannah (@savkra) October 11, 2016
@hwlcx Equipment at BOS froze overnight causing a holdup for several flights including yours. We know the delays are frustrating.
— JetBlue (@JetBlue) February 14, 2016
"Come on! What's the holdup???"
(Me waiting at the end of the line during a bank robbery)
— Casey Duncan (@caseytduncan) May 24, 2015
Try using holdup!
Is holdup used correctly in the following sentence?
If you’re late submitting those documents, the holdup will make us miss our deadline.
How to use holdup in a sentence
It’s possible that supply chain holdups are forcing factories and construction sites to slow down or even shut down for awhile.It’s not a ‘labor shortage.’ It’s a great reassessment of work in America|Heather Long|May 7, 2021|Washington Post
The holdup is more likely to be the manufacturing and distribution of the retooled vaccines, Offit said.Coronavirus mutations add urgency to vaccination effort as experts warn of long battle ahead|Joel Achenbach, Ariana Eunjung Cha|January 30, 2021|Washington Post
As Edward notes, there were holdups for Pfizer and Moderna on the manufacturing side, but they were not insurmountable — more like the kind of problems you face when you try to do something groundbreaking on a massive scale.
It’s increasingly looking as though Senate Republicans are the holdup to a coronavirus stimulus bill before the election.Why Senate Republicans would rather approve a Supreme Court nominee than coronavirus stimulus|Amber Phillips|October 21, 2020|Washington Post
Barring any holdups, Brazilian authorities said on Monday that they will aim to approve CoronaVac before the end of 2020 and begin distributing the vaccine to the public by the start of next year.World’s vaccine testing ground deems Chinese COVID candidate ‘the safest, most promising’|Grady McGregor|October 20, 2020|Fortune
In the meantime, he should just accept that the holdup has nothing to do with his politics.Conservative Curt Says His Politics, Not His Pitching, Kept Him Out of the Hall of Fame|Ben Jacobs|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
As they fled the scene of their holdup, the terrified taxi driver took them to Place de la Nation in the eastern part of Paris.The Mad Shooter of Paris Is a ‘Natural Born Killer’|Christopher Dickey|November 21, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Jacobs sites sample production delays as the culprit for his unforeseen holdup.Anne Hathaway’s Lanvin Fitting, Marc Jacobs Delays Fashion Show|The Fashion Beast Team|February 8, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Vrondran says that the holdup apparently surrounds BP's approval of the $200 per day pay for the deckhands.
Next morning at daylight they found the body of Checkers lying beside the fatal red car not far from the scene of the holdup.Ted Strong's Motor Car|Edward C. Taylor
According to her the police stood in with Bulldog Carney on a train holdup, and made this poor innocent lamb the goat.Bulldog Carney|W. A. Fraser
"If I land there you can ask for a damfool—and I'll answer the first time," laughed the holdup over his shoulder.
A car of the same make, model and color was stolen from Annapolis, Maryland, a short time prior to the holdup.Code Three|Rick Raphael
That's Jake Betts, holdup and bad man, that's been callin' himself Dade around here.
British Dictionary definitions for holdup
Other Idioms and Phrases with holdup
Offer or present as an example, as in The teacher held Bernie's essay up as a model for the class to follow. [c. 1600]
Obstruct or delay, as in We were held up in traffic. [c. 1900]
Rob, as in He was held up in a dark alley, with no help nearby. This usage, which gave rise to the noun holdup for a robbery, alludes to the robbers' demand that the victims hold their hands high. [Late 1800s]
Also, hold out. Continue to function without losing force or effectiveness, endure. For example, We held up through that long bitter winter, or The nurse was able to hold out until someone could relieve her. [Late 1500s]
See hold one's head high.