December 22, 2006

in honour of the fantastic final episode of the Wire season 4 (btw, totally disregard my old post about the Wire and the Shield being close. After 4, the Wire is unquestionably the greatest show in the history of Television. Take that St. Elsewhere!), today’s word is “re-up”.

According to the official “English” definition, re-up is:

U.S. Services’ slangintr. To re-enlist. Also as n., one who re-enlists. Hence re-{sm}upping vbl. n.

Perhaps too limited a definition for the American Urban milieu.  Maybe the AHD has a better definition:

INTRANSITIVE VERB Inflected forms: re-·upped, re-·up·ping, re-·ups
Informal 1. To enlist again for military service. 2. To sign a renewed contract for employment or service.

There ain’t no contracts in “The Wire,” and the word clearly refers to drugs in this context.

from Urban Dictionary:



usually said by drug dealers, or people who are really into a particular drug. when they are running low they “re-up” the stash.

i just smoked my last L now i gotta re-up with some fresh shit.



v. Using one’s own money from previous drug sales to rebuy more drugs to sell.

Past tense: re’d-up
Present tense: reing-up

“Every n*gga round me sell white; Re-up and move the sh*t in one night” -Young Jeezy; Ya Dig

“What you rein’-up with, I spent it all in Strokers” -Young Jeezy; Air Forces

Definition 4 is clearly the fullest from a lexicography point of view, but it may be too specific. Still, the change in the verb formation is fascinating.

Of note, the 5th definition of the Urban Dictionary is the first to refer to the military. Has the urban outlook on life completely changed? In a drug WAR where gangsters are SOLDIERS, how can RE-UP not refer to the game?

At the very least, the AHD needs to add the drug definition to the dictionary. American society needs the term to make sense of itself (and Young Jeezy lyrics)

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