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    #1

    The meaning of "weigh up" in American English

    British English dictionaries define "weigh up" as "carefully assess someone or something" or something to that effect. But American English dictionaries don't have an entry for that phrasal verb.


    Do you (if you are an American) use, or have you heard anyone from the States use that phrase?

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The meaning of "weigh up" in American English

    As an AmE speaker, I have not heard that phrase. We would simply use the word "weigh". He weighed his options. They weighed the possibilities.

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    #3

    Re: The meaning of "weigh up" in American English

    I am not a teacher.

    In that sense it is exactly the same in BrE.

    I think what the OP is talking about is closer to 'size up'.

    To me, 'weigh up' implies careful assessment and 'size up' implies more of an approximation, but they are close enough.

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    #4

    Re: The meaning of "weigh up" in American English

    Hi Roman55, actual MikeNewYork's understanding of my question was correct.

    here is how MacMillan British English Dictionary defines it - to consider the good and bad aspects of something in order to reach a decision about it. e.g. Before buying weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

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    #5

    Re: The meaning of "weigh up" in American English

    I am not a teacher.

    I'm glad that Mike's answer is what you were looking for BigMak. I think you misunderstood mine, though.

    I know what 'to weigh up' means, but one sentence from one dictionary is not enough to extrapolate all uses from. In that same dictionary you will find one of the definitions of 'to weigh' as being, "to consider all the aspects of a situation carefully before making a decision - The judge weighed all the facts before reaching a verdict."

    I was simply making the point that in BrE we also say, 'He weighed his options'. It is not an AmE variant of 'He weighed up his options'. We weigh the options and we weigh up the opposition. There is always going to be some overlap.

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    #6

    Re: The meaning of "weigh up" in American English

    Quote Originally Posted by Roman55 View Post
    I was simply making the point that in BrE we also say, 'He weighed his options'. It is not an AmE variant of 'He weighed up his options'. We weigh the options and we weigh up the opposition. There is always going to be some overlap.

    So, if I understand you correctly, "weigh" cannot always be used to mean "weigh up". Could you give me an example of "weigh up" where using "weigh" wouldn't work?

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    #7

    Re: The meaning of "weigh up" in American English

    I am not a teacher.

    Well, I'm only speaking from a BrE perspective.

    In a sporting event for example you weigh up the opposition to assess their stength/ability and so on, but if I were to say 'weigh the opposition' it would have the literal meaning of finding out how heavy they are. I would probably understand what was meant if it were said by someone else though, context permitting.

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    #8

    Re: The meaning of "weigh up" in American English

    Oh, right! In that case we need to use size up. Thanks! Now I get it.

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    #9

    Re: The meaning of "weigh up" in American English

    In AmE we would use "size up" for that meaning with "the opposition".

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