all the way up
all the way up
- Literally refers to ascending a mountain or cliff, or navigating a river to a specific terminal point.
- Figuratively, it refers to working through or completing the various stages of an endeavor, usually to some identified point.
- It can be used to include everyone within a chain of command or hierarchy.
- More recently, it has become a slang term for a drug-induced mania, state of wakefulness, or sense of invulnerability.
- I made it all the way up the steep incline, but I didn’t have the energy to go on.
- He played piano all the way up through his junior year of college.
- Responsibility for the failure goes all the way up to the senior executives.
- After taking cocaine, he was all the way up and running around like a fool.
The more traditional sense is straightforwardly derived from the literal notion of surmounting or navigating terrain. The figurative use of ‘climbing’ through the ranks of a school, business, or other institutional hierarchy—or referring to a period over which one did so—has been in common use since at least the early 19th century. An 1816 book, pseudonymously penned by “A Practical Jobber,” notes that it was a common expression amongst stock brokers to say, “I am a Bull all the way up and a Bear all the way down.” (The Art of Stock-Jobbing Explained, Fifth Edition, London: Hamblin and Seyfang, 1816: p. 25). In this context, a “bull” is someone who invests in the expectation that market prices will rise, and a “bear” is someone who short-sells in the expectation that market prices will fall.
The more recent slang was used by the rappers Fat Joe, Remy Ma, and French Montana in their single, “All the Way Up.”