hold up: meaning and explanation

to hold somebody/something up = to delay somebody or something.

It is easy to use this phrasal verb as an alternative to the verb delay. e.g. I don’t want to hold you up = I don’t want to delay you.

We often use the phrasal verb in the passive (to be/get held up) when we want to focus on the person or thing that is delayed. e.g. I got held up at work.

We can also use this phrasal verb as a noun – a hold up, e.g. Sorry for the hold up, your drinks will be ready in the next couple of minutes.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Dictation #1

Accent: Ireland

. .
Sorry I'm . I by the
Sorry I'm . I got up by the .

Dictation #2

Accent: Northern England

Available soon

Dictation #3

Accent: England (London)

Available soon

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