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Origin of uptight

1960–65, Americanism; up (perhaps as intensifier) + tight
Related formsup·tight·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for uptight


adjective informal
  1. displaying tense repressed nervousness, irritability, or anger
  2. unable to give expression to one's feelings, personality, etc
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for uptight

"tense," slang, 1934, from up + tight. Meaning "straight-laced" first recorded 1969. It was used in a sense of "excellent" in jazz slang c.1962.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper