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bel·​ly-up ˈbe-lē-ˈəp How to pronounce belly-up (audio)
: hopelessly ruined or defeated
especially : bankrupt
the business went belly-up

belly up

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bellied up; bellying up; bellies up

intransitive verb

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

Examples of belly-up in a Sentence

Verb belly up to the buffet table and help yourselves
Recent Examples on the Web
Usually, a belly-up fish isn’t long for this world. Elizabeth Anne Brown, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2023 Small fish float belly-up alongside snakelike tubes of irrigation piping. Melissa Gomez, Los Angeles Times, 5 Aug. 2023
Some of the images are meant to be provocative: In one, a horseshoe crab, bronze and gleaming, lies belly up, stretching its legs toward the sky. Oli Turner, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 July 2024 So, basically, with everyone tiptoeing around Hill’s criminal case, Buddy is just bellying up to the ballot box and saying: Make this a referendum on me. Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel, 12 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for belly-up 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'belly-up.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



from the floating position of a dead fish

First Known Use


1918, in the meaning defined above


1880, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of belly-up was in 1880

Dictionary Entries Near belly-up

Cite this Entry

“Belly-up.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

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