What Does To Buy Something Up Mean?

To Buy Something Up Meaning

Definition: To purchase a large amount of something; to stock up.

This phrasal verb means to buy a lot of something, usually to the point where there is nothing left. If you buy up everything in the supermarket, you have bought everything that was on the shelves in the supermarket.

This phrase is also used in the context of commerce; it is said that you are buying shares up in a business if you purchase the controlling interest of it.

Unless otherwise specified, it is implied that buying up is done quickly.

  • He bought up the entire lot of wood. (Quickly)
  • He bought up all the land over time. (Over time)

Origin of To Buy Something Up

Meaning of to buy up It is unclear exactly when English speakers started using this phrase, but we do know that it is at least a few hundred years old.

There are two examples to be found in the March and April 1790 editions of the Gazette of the United-States, respectively,

  • This paper depreciated, and was bought up chiefly by British merchants.
  • …who flew to Carolina, and there bought up securities at 3s. in the pound; those men will be liberally rewarded, while his unfortunate fellow citizens are left to pay a second tax for this game object.

Examples of To Buy Something Up

Define buy up In the modern day, it is common to say someone bought something up if he or she gave money to get the last of it.

  • We bought up all the milk in the store so that we could have an ice-cream making festival.

In business, you could say,

  • The CEO finally earned enough to buy up all the shares of his rival company.

More Examples

  • Every year, between 5 million and 7 million pounds of the sticky cream invented in suburban Boston in 1917 is produced and sold worldwide, although half the supply is bought up by New Englanders and people in upstate New York. –Sioux City Journal
  • This had to be approved by shareholders and the vote last month was clouded by questions over the validity of 445 votes after shares were bought up by a mystery buyer and distributed to staff and customers. –Daily Post


The phrase to buy something up is to purchase a lot of something from one place or to take ownership of a business or corporation.