something is up

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Senior Member
a. Something is up with the computer.

b. Something is up with him.

I think (a) means something is wrong with the computer. But it seems to me that (b) could have positive or negative connotations, depending on the context. Maybe something bad has happened or is happening to him, or he has changed in a negative way, but the sentence might also be positive.

c. Something is up with him. I think he's got some good news to give us and is waiting for the right moment. He's probably found a job.

Generally, computers don't change in a positive way without humans bringing about that change, so such an interpretation would be highly improbable as regards (a).

Is that correct?
Does (c) work?

Many thanks.
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    Combination c looks good. As you suggest, "something is up" doesn't have to be negative, but for computers usually is.

    "Something is up" usually means "something is not normal". People say it because they have noticed a difference:
    - a person is acting different
    - a computer is acting different (usually bad!)
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