Own up

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Own up is an idiom that has been in use since the 1800s. We will examine the meaning of the common saying own up, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To own up means to admit responsibility for something that has gone wrong, to acknowledge one’s error. Own up means to confess one’s wrongdoing. For instance, a child who has broken his mother’s vase and admits that he is one who has broken the vase may be said to own up. The expression own up came into use in the 1850s. Related phrases are owns up, owned up, owning up.


“He needs to own up to it because sooner or later we need somebody in the United States Senate that will stand up to Communist China,” Perdue said. (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Alvarez acknowledged his misjudgment Thursday, saying “I own up to my error and I am glad Rex gets another shot.” (Fresno Bee)

“The neocon advocates for unlimited presidential war powers should own up to their hypocrisy and admit that their love of perpetual war trumps their oft-stated unitary executive theory.” (New York Post)