5 Ways to Explain “What’s Up”

Whenever I am asked the question “What’s up”, I never know how to respond.  The old, sarcastic response of “the sky”?  That’s been used too often.  Should I answer with the real answer to the question, a summary of what is happening in my life?  Since the phrase has come into common use, it’s no longer thought of as a question of what someone is doing, but just as a generic greeting.  Nevertheless, some answer is required, and an awkward silence should be avoided at all costs.  In order to utterly destroy awkward silences in this end of conversation, I give you a list of 5 ways to answer the question “What’s up?”

  1. “My eyebrows.”  This is true no matter what, unless you have had your eyebrows surgically removed, you are a creature that doesn’t naturally possess eyebrows, or you are the Dark Lord Sauron.  But if none of those is the case, and since the perspective of any human is through its eyes, we can always truthfully say that our eyebrows are up.
  2. “Not really.”  This isn’t true considering the question asked, but it doesn’t make any sense either– so it’s a good choice.  If you say it cheerfully, it will be especially confusing.  And don’t explain yourself.
  3. “Up is a noun meaning that direction.”  Point up as you say this, and launch a monologue based off the definitions, etymology and common idioms containing “up”.  I suggest you write this monologue beforehand, using information from any dictionary you choose.  If you’re forced to make something up on the spot, or if your audience seems genuinely interested, tell them that it’s ultimately derived from the Latin word for duck.  Then say you have to rush off somewhere else.  It is important that you follow up this statement with the action, in order to leave your audience utterly befuddled.
  4. “Ooh, bad luck, [whatever their name is]!  The correct question was, ‘What color is the island of Samoa?’  This has been Jeopardy! Thank you, and good night!”  No explanation necessary.
  5. “…And then I told Phil, the only way to properly play a violin is with steaks, you see?  And he smiled and nodded, but I don’t think he knew what I was talking about, do you?”  Basically, come into their hearing carrying on a conversation you’ve already begun in your head.  It’s quite a fun activity.

I hope these examples will spark new ideas for your own conversations.  If you can find someone who will play along readily, good for you– prepare for a great, but meaningless, conversation.

Leave a comment


  1. This was the first thing i read today and i HAVE to try all of them now 😛

  2. I never know how to respond to “what’s up”, so I always end up saying “not much” in response. It’s the only thing I can think of to say that probably won’t be a “wrong” answer, if there even is one. I love 2, though. That should be a lark to use in conversation 🙂

  3. Charley R

     /  December 11, 2012

    I think number three would work best with a set of pointy ears and upwards-tilted eyebrows. Possibly also a Starfleet uniform.

    Just suggesting 😉

  4. What a perfectly timely list. One of my friends *always* opens with that question, and then refuses to answer it when I ask.

  5. I do wonder what someone would say if I mentioned the Head Phil to them…

  6. Ha! This post is awesome (& teh rest of your blog, too).
    I used to work with a fellow that always shouted “What’s the good word?” at 8:30 in the morning, when the only words I could think of were “Shut up and bring me my coffee.”
    If I ever see him again, I’m going to say coagulate.
    Coagulate is the goodest word ever.

  7. “my eyebrows”
    I love that and will reuse it often. You gave me a happy with this post.

    P.S Generic Question: How do you come up with a post a day? What’s your philosophy on Post Ideas? Have any suggestions for me?

    • hithere298

       /  December 11, 2012

      Whenever someone asks me that question, I simply reply, “Why don’t you look for yourself?” and walk away. This might be why I have no friends.

    • I’m glad I gave you a happy, even though happy isn’t a noun and therefore shouldn’t be used as such. But I forgive you.

      I read. I read a lot. Whatever I find out from reading, I write down and use in a blog post. I also think a lot. With this post, I had just realized that even though years have passed since I was first asked “What’s up?” I still don’t know how to answer, and the awkward silences I created still haunt me. So I wrote this post. Basically, it’s recognizing that everything in life is interesting enough to write about, and then being able to write about it.

  8. This is hilarious! My favorites are 2 and 4, as they’re so random and make no sense whatsoever. The last one is also pretty good, although I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to let my mental conversations take place outside my head…

  9. Robyn Hoode

     /  December 11, 2012

    Gracious, Liam! You might be spending too much time being solitary. Is anyone else concerned? (I’m joking.)
    This was pretty good and pretty funny. I am tempted to use the one about definitions.

  10. Reblogged this on Tangents and commented:
    This is just grand.

  11. Reblogged this on COBB : Confessions Of a Bored Bomb and commented:
    ‘What’s up?’ I have spent hours thinking about a perfect response to that. The mystery is out now! 😉

  12. ive never quite got ‘sup either…i hoped this would help but alas… 😀

    • No, this isn’t for understanding the phrase, but simply to baffle the users of the phrase.

      I love your username, by the way. Latin and dragons.

  13. great stuff

  14. Katie

     /  December 12, 2012

    Hahahaha, I love these 😀

  15. I’m going to try out 3 and 4 soon. 🙂 And even Sauron could say, “My eyebrow”… unless he’s singed it off. How stupid of him.

    Or… I have a Spanish friend, and once spent about fifteen minutes trying to explain to her what we mean by “What’s up?” Because really, it doesn’t make sense.

  16. I will have to try this, though I myself am a repetitive user of the phrase “what’s up?” Time to find a new greeting.

    And “Up” is a preposition, not a noun.

  17. I thought I was saving lives!

  18. I believe this is the very first post of yours I ever read. And I could have sworn I’d commented on it, but I can’t find it.

    …you didn’t delete my comment, did you? Hehe, it was probably a boring comment anyway, if it did actually exist in the first place.

    I still have not used any of these. I’m usually just boring and report whatever is above my head at the time.

  19. I should try these! You see, I have an affliction. When I hear “What’s up?” I automatically want to answer with total honesty, but if I can’t say it with humor (“far too much!”) I fear that I will be ostracized. Or rather, I don’t fear it. What I really fear is people questioning my sanity when I’ll never meet them again, because they might–just might–report me to the government, especially if they know they will never see me again. (Also, if I say “My grades” they will mistake me for an arrogant person, no matter if it’s true. Which, by the way, it normally is…)
    Also, I have been told that I “talk like a Brit.” What? I know for sure I don’t talk like a dictionary–dictionaries can’t talk! But I have never met a “Brit”, so how should I know what they talk like?! It’s a puzzle.

  1. 5 Ways to Explain “What’s Up” « So, That's A Thing That Happened

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