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Belly Up

Belly Up

What Is Belly Up?

"Belly up" is a colloquial articulation in American English used to portray a business, organization, or institution that has quit existing or going bankrupt. The phrase is a similitude contrasting the business being referred to with dead fish or one more animal that has drifted to the highest point of a waterway, with its belly facing up, after it has passed on.

Understanding Belly Up

Quite possibly the earliest utilization of "belly up" was in 1920 in crafted by author John Dos Passos. He stated, "Labor's belly up completely — The main hope is the I.W.W. [union]." The phrase is remembered to have originated in the seventeenth century and is ascribed to William Douglass. As a figure of discourse, it is a similitude, since it is contrasting the subject of a sentence with a dead animal.

If one somehow managed to say, "my dad's business kicked the bucket in 1963," one wouldn't expect to mean that the business literally passed on, which would be unthinkable. All things being equal, the speaker would plan to think about the bankruptcy of the dad's business to the death of an animal metaphorically.

Belly Up in Modern Parlance

"Belly up" is most commonly used to allude to a business that has failed, which is a common occurrence in the modern American economy. For example, in 2019, 38,944 American businesses petitioned for financial protection, up somewhat from 38,032 of every 2018, as per the American Bankruptcy Institute.

In 2020, total bankruptcy filings were 529,071. The increase was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that resulted. Or on the other hand, to phrase it another way, "The COVID-19 pandemic brought about 529,071 businesses to kick the bucket in 2020." In this occasion, and frequently, "belly up" can frequently seem to be easygoing, and ought not be utilized in alluding to something serious or disastrous, similar to the bankruptcies brought about by a global pandemic.

Many factors will determine the rate and number of business disappointments at some random time. A sound economy may be a justification for an increase in total bankruptcies in light of the fact that the wellbeing of the economy could spur more [entrepreneurs](/business visionary) to begin new businesses.

Such a scenario, be that as it may, would usually be paired with a consistent or falling rate of bankruptcies. During a recession, then again, the rate of bankruptcies would typically go pointedly upwards, alongside the total number of bankruptcies. If economic stagnation proceeds, in any case, the total number of bankruptcies could fall just on the grounds that the rate of business formation falls alongside confidence in the economy.

The utilization of the term "belly up" became broad during the 1940s, as per Google Ngram Viewer. Google Ngram Viewer is an online web search tool that charts the frequency of the use of a term in printed sources beginning in 1800. The term "belly up" was not utilized frequently until a sharp rise during the 1960s, with an even more keen increase during the 1980s. It arrived at its all-time most involved status in 2012, and the term is still exceptionally common today.


  • "Belly up" is most frequently utilized while alluding to a business that failed.
  • Up until the 1940s, the word was rarely utilized, in any case, it saw a sharp increase during the 1960s and further during the 1980s, hitting top use in 2012.
  • "Belly up" is a colloquial articulation in American English that depicts a business, organization, or institution that has failed to exist usually due to financial difficulty.
  • One of the earliest purposes of the phrase was by John Dos Passos in 1920 in reference to labor however the phrase is remembered to have originated in the seventeenth century.