When you see the phrases hold up and holed up, it is easy to think they mean the same thing just with a different spelling. However, these two phrases have very different meanings from each other and should be used properly.
Holed Up Meaning and Use
The phrase holed up is an idiom that is used pretty rarely. Due to the scarcity of use, people often confuse the phrase with hold up. The word used to mean to literally hide in a hole or cave. As these became less popular hiding places, the phrase expanded to mean a hiding place in general.
Holed up describes someone who is in hiding or staying somewhere that other people can’t disturb or find them. When someone is holed up, they are usually in a place that they feel safe and comfortable.
Holed up can also refer to an animal that is in hibernation. This is because, for most small animals, hibernation takes place in a hole. It can also refer to animals that are hiding out for safety from another animal.
She’s been holed up in her room since the break-up.
I found my cat holed up in a tree after being chased by the dog.
They found the criminal holed up in a dark alley.
Hold Up Meaning and Use
Hold up has multiple different definitions. First, it means to support something in a way that prevents it from falling. It can also mean to display something by holding it higher than your waist or your head.
Hold up can also mean to stop or delay something in a way that prevents the progress from moving along. When you are in traffic, you probably find yourself asking what the hold-up is.
Hold up can also refer to something that is strong and durable. For example, dams are known to hold up well against running water.
One final definition for the phrase hold up is to wait or stop. This is most commonly used when you are running behind or trying to catch up with someone. You will ask that person to hold up, meaning asking them to wait a minute for you.
Do you think this pole can hold up the tent?
That car will hold up through anything, even flooding the engine.
We’ve been sitting in traffic for an hour, what is the hold up?
What About the noun “Holdup”?
A holdup most commonly refers to being robbed or threatening violence. On many occasions, you will hear burglars say, “this is a holdup” as they enter a bank to take their money.
Holdup can also mean to stop or delay something, but it is not used as commonly as hold up. The phrase is preferred as two words instead of one.
During the holdup, the man was wearing a mask so we couldn’t see his face.
Even though there was some holdup, she made it to her appointment on time.
Holed Up or Hold Up?
If you are confused about which phrase to use, there is one simple way that you can think of to keep them straight. When you are talking about someone that is hiding, think of the E in holEd up as Escape. The person is trying to escape or get away from other people.
These phrases can’t be used in place of each other because they have different meanings. You can’t say that someone was hold up in hiding or that there was a holed up on the highway. It is important to make sure that you are using the proper phrase for what you are trying to say.