up means under? (up her dress)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by TheGist, May 25, 2012.

  1. TheGist Senior Member

    As a non-native speaker, I never thought of using "up" this way, but I googled the phrase and it seems like it's a common way of saying this.

    "He looked up her dress"
    "He put his hand up her dress".

    Can't you just say "under her dress" in the above examples? "Under" seems a more logical word to me.

  2. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    To "look up" someone's dress means to direct one's eyes toward the private parts of the dress wearer. "Look under" has no specific direction or sexual meaning implied.
  3. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    Technically, you could say hand under her dress. It is just more common to hear "up" her dress because it infers that you are starting at the bottom/tail of the dress and working your hand up her dress to get to an obvious destination.

    Looking up her dress, again, would be looking up at a certain region from the perspective of the bottom/tail of the dress.
  4. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I had a friend who attended a Catholic school. He claimed that the girls were not allowed to wear patent leather shoes because boys would then be able to see the reflection and see up the girls' dresses. I never believed the story, but you do need a special perspective to look up a woman's dress.

    If a man puts his hand "up a woman's" dress or skirt then he has put his hand on her thigh or higher. If he puts his hand up a woman's blouse then his aspiration is her breasts.

    Contrast that with "looking down" a woman's dress, which would be to look at her cleavage.
  5. DocPenfro

    DocPenfro Senior Member

    Little England
    English - British
    Both phrases are possible, and indeed logical; however, "up her dress" suggests a degree of impropriety and usually implies an unwanted intrusion of a sexual nature.
    You could say that "she wore a petticoat under her dress"
  6. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    In these cases, the direction is of interest and also the implication that the dress is not removed.
    He put his hand up her skirt. (He started from the bottom.)
    He put his hand down her skirt. (He started from the top.)
    He looked down her top.

    Her legs are under her dress. (Inside, Covered by)
    Her feet are under her dress. (Beneath)
    The doctor looked under her dress (after she took it off).
    Last edited: May 25, 2012
  7. TheGist Senior Member

    Thanks everyone for your replies. It's just that in Russian, you literally say "under" in these cases. And I just like to analyze English way of thinking.

    Ha-ha. Nice reason!

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