What does HOOK UP mean?

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Today’s student question is, “What does ‘hook up’ mean?”

We use this phrasal verb in a couple different ways in English. It has a sexual meaning and a non-sexual meaning, so be a little bit careful how you use it!

Hook up + objects

When talking about objects, hook up means to connect, for example:

  • I hooked up the printer to the computer, meaning I used a cord or a cable to connect the two machines.
  • Or if someone’s throwing a big party or wedding, the company in charge of setting everything up would hook up the sound system – connect all the speakers, microphones, etc.

Hook up objects means to connect them

Hook up with + a person

Meaning #1:

When talking about people, hooking up with a person CAN mean to meet someone or begin to associate together. An article about a famous band might say that the members hooked up in 1995, meaning they met each other and started to play music together.

Meaning #2:

BUT, informally, to hook up with someone means to have a casual sexual encounter with the person. At a party, a guy might get drunk and hook up with a girl he just met. There are certain smartphone apps where people are mostly looking to hook up – to have sex – but not so much a serious long-term relationship.

So if you’re going to meet a friend later, although you technically could say “John and I are going to hook up after class” – it’s probably better to say “John and I are going to meet up after class” to make it clear that you’re just meeting the person, NOT having sex with him.

OK? Hook up means to connect objects, hook up with someone means to have a casual sexual encounter.

Hook up with someone is an informal way to say have a casual sexual encounter

“I’ll hook you up” – Meaning

One final phrase you might be wondering about is “I’ll hook you up” – if someone says that to you, what exactly are they suggesting?

“I’ll hook you up” means something like “I’ll connect you with a good opportunity.”

Let’s say your cousin’s friend got a job at a really fancy store, and he gets an employee discount when shopping there. If you mention you’d love to buy some stuff at that store, your cousin might reply, “Oh my friend can get you a discount there; I’ll hook you up!” – meaning your cousin will give you the friend’s contact information or introduce you to the friend, thus connecting you with a person who can get you a good price.

Well, if you click here, I’ll hook you up with a great free resource – a downloadable PDF with all our past “ask the teacher” lessons, like this one!

And you can learn lots more phrasal verbs in context when you join my Phrasal Verbs in Conversation Course.