[Ads-l] "keyed up"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 26 17:55:00 UTC 2018

Perhaps you have already seen this, SG. The Oxford English Dictionary
connects “key up” and “keyed up” to high pitch. I haven’t examined the

key, v.
Phrasal verbs
to key up
transitive. To stimulate, raise to a high pitch; to cause to be
excited or tense. Cf. keyed-up at keyed adj. 5.

1835   J. Todd Student's Man. 165   You would wish to stimulate your
mind, and key it up to the highest point.
1888   W. H. Hurlbert Ireland under Coercion I. i. 46   If Mr. Balfour
keys up the landlords to stand out.
1945   S. O'Casey Drums under Windows 223   The tramway workers..were
trying to key themselves up to make a fight of it.

keyed, adj.
 5. orig. U.S. keyed-up: in a state of tension or excitement; excited,
stimulated. Cf. to key up at key v. Phrasal verbs 1.
1885   Amer. Teacher Sept. 49/1   Another speeding across the room by
the teacher, and uneasy waiting for that keyed-up, nervous troop to
1895   Looker-on Dec. 252   I was aware that people were saying
good-night; the keyed-up spirits had fallen flat, the evening was

On Wed, Dec 26, 2018 at 5:10 AM Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:
> No biggie, but am I the only one who is not clear on when "keyed up"
> bears some relationship to keys (the locking/unlocking things)
> and keys (the musical kinds)? And which may be older?
> SG
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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