up in arms


up in arms

Meaning | Synonyms

  • angry
  • rebellious
  • eagerly oppose or protest something

Example Sentences

  1. My mom was up in arms about the new salary cuts rumoured to be put in place.
  2. The students were up in arms when they heard that their breaktime would be taken away due to poor behaviour.
  3. Everyone is up in arms about the highway that they plan to build through our city centre.
  4. The employees were up in arms over the management’s plan to discontinue five-day week policy.


The literal meaning of the phrase dates back to the 1500s. It is related to the fact that weapons and armour are also called arms. One of the first examples of the phrase can be found in King Richard III, by William Shakespeare. The play was written in the late 1500s.

March on, march on, since we are up in arms
if not to fight with foreign enemies, …

It is not known whether the phrase was meant in a literal or figurative manner. It is assumed to be literal as an enemy and marching are referenced. The figurative meaning stems from the same place. In the case of the idiom it is not weapons that are taken up but people are still believed to engage in a battle. It is thought that the figurative meaning dates back to the 1700s.

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