What Does Buckle Up Mean?

Buckle Up Meaning

Definition: To fasten a seatbelt; to prepare oneself for something exciting or intense.

Origin of Buckle Up

It is unclear exactly when this idiom originated, but it became popular after the 1950s. It comes from the buckle on a car’s seatbelts. Buckle up was originally used as a phrasal verb to remind those in a vehicle to fasten their seatbelts.

Over time, it also was used as a warning or suggestion to prepare for something literally or metaphorically bumpy. This could be a rocky road or any intense action.

Examples of Buckle Up

buggle up meaningHere is an example of a grandmother and her granddaughter using this expression while at home having a discussion.

Grandmother: Hello, darling. How was school today?

Granddaughter: It was the worst day ever.

Grandmother: Oh no! Tell me what happened!

Granddaughter: Trust me, you don’t want to know. It’s a really long, depressing story.

Grandmother: No, I do want to know.

Granddaughter: Well, buckle up, because it’s a wild story!

Grandmother: I’m ready. Tell me!

define buckled upThe second dialogue shows a daughter and her father discussing the daughter’s new boyfriend.

Father: Let me start by saying I appreciate you inviting your boyfriend over for dinner.

Daughter: You’re welcome.

Father: Now that that’s out of the way, buckle up. I have to tell you something.

Daughter: Oh no. What is it?

Father: You have to break up with him.

More Examples

The below quote is about the idiom buckle up. The author is warning parents to prepare themselves for their daughter to become ruder and ruder as she becomes a teenager.

  • You are going to see an increased surliness, increased manipulation and an increase in her pulling away from you as she nears her tween years. (If you think she is rude now, buckle up.)  –Washington Post

This quote is about the phrasal verb buckle up. It talks about how it is important to fasten your seat belt when driving in the two states with the worst drivers.

  • Buckle up on your drive to Thanksgiving dinner — especially if you’re traveling through Texas or Louisiana. –New York Daily News


The phrase buckle up frequently refers to wearing a seatbelt, as a phrasal verb. It also can mean to get ready for something difficult or emotional.