het up: irate or enthusiastic?

susanna76

Senior Member
Romanian
I came across "het up" recently, in a British short story.

Here goes the passage:

"She said she didn't want to eat with us because she was revising. But she's not. She's just lolling about, listening to music. As per bloody usual." He pierced a carrot in disgust.

"Calm down," I said soothingly. It was, of course, hardly surprising that John was het up.

--

I looked up "het up" on dictionary.com and learned it can be used to mean one of two things. I wonder whether there's a regional difference in meaning. Which meaning do you have in mind when you use "het up"?

Thanks so much.
 
  • Uncle Bob

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hello,
    If it means the same as "worked up", which I am almost sure it does, then it could also mean "very worried".
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    It's a real catch-all word in the U.S. Midwest where it can mean a variety of things, including angry, excited (enthusiastic, agitated), worked up or upset.

    Those were from my own exposure and then I looked up the expression to see if it was close (I've not heard the "heated up" use):

    From the Free Dictionary:
    1. het up - made warm or hot (`het' is a dialectal variant of 'heated'); "a heated swimming pool"; "wiped his heated-up face with a large bandana"; "he was all het up and sweaty"
    2. het up - worked up emotionally by anger or excitement; "was terribly het up over the killing of the eagle"; "got really het up over the new taxes"; "he was suddenly het up about racing cars"

    M-W: highly excited : upset.

    Oxford: informal: angry and agitated: her husband is all het up about something.
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    So there is a difference in usage! UK: irate or worked up, and US: as posted by Copyright.

    This is rather interesting. I have learned with "full of beans" and other expressions to err on the side of caution rather than assume phrases mean the same thing(s) on both sides of the ocean.

    Thanks again!
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    'Het up' means angry, agitated, very worried, 'all worked up', and possibly 'enthusiastic', but in a negative or unhealthy way. I am amazed it is used in the USA too!
    I'd expect to hear it more in the north of England and haven't heard it used down south.
    (Perhaps nobody in the south would dream of getting 'all het up'.:D)
    Cheers
    Hermione
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Thanks, Hermione, for pointing out that there's a negative nuance when "het up" is used to mean "excited." So it's not quite "enthusiastic" then.

    Also interesting to read that you haven't encountered it in the South. The writer (Wendy Holden), did, indeed, grow up in Yorkshire, and now lives in Derbyshire.
     
    Last edited:

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    In the U.S. it's not always negative. Note one of the examples from the Free Dictionary: "He was suddenly het up about racing cars." I would probably put "all" in front of "het up" there -- all het up. :)
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    In the U.S. it's not always negative. Note one of the examples from the Free Dictionary: "He was suddenly het up about racing cars." I would probably put "all" in front of "het up" there -- all het up. :)
    Right! Thanks for pointing it out!
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    It's a real catch-all word in the U.S. Midwest where it can mean a variety of things, including angry, excited (enthusiastic, agitated), worked up or upset.
    The Midwest is a big place; I grew up in Chicago and moved to Central Illinois, and I had never encountered the word until I saw it in print when I was about 35 years old, and then I assumed it was a misprint for "heated", until I looked it up. I've never heard it since.
     
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