One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1In or into a position with the belly or underside facing upwards; specifically (especially of a fish) in or into this position as the result of dying.
2US informal, figurative Figurative informal (originally US). In or into a situation of having failed (especially financially), died, finished, or become defunct. Especially in "to go belly-up".
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in William Douglass (?1691–1752). From belly + up.
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