bel·​ly-up | \ ˈbe-lē-ˈəp How to pronounce belly-up (audio) \

Definition of belly-up

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: hopelessly ruined or defeated especially : bankrupt the business went belly-up

belly up

bellied up; bellying up; bellies up

Definition of belly up (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to move close or next to bellied up to the bar

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Synonyms & Antonyms for belly-up

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of belly-up in a Sentence

Verb belly up to the buffet table and help yourselves

First Known Use of belly-up


1918, in the meaning defined above


1880, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for belly-up


from the floating position of a dead fish

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Time Traveler for belly-up

Time Traveler

The first known use of belly-up was in 1880

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Statistics for belly-up

Last Updated

24 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Belly-up.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for belly-up

belly up


Financial Definition of belly up

What It Is

In the finance world, a company goes belly up when it declares bankruptcy or goes out of business.

How It Works

Let’s assume Company XYZ’s stock falls from $10 per share to 50 cents per share due to a series of internal scandals and product failures. The company files for bankruptcy a week later. In this situation, we would say that Company XYZ went belly up.

Why It Matters

The financial world seems to have its own language sometimes. In this case, the slang term evolved from the fact that when creatures die, they tend to fall on their backs, with their bellies facing up.

Source: Investing Answers

More from Merriam-Webster on belly-up

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with belly-up

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