Definition of show someone/something up in English:

show someone/something up

phrasal verb

  • 1Expose someone or something as being bad or faulty.

    ‘it's a pity they haven't showed up the authorities for what they are’
    • ‘They might get the feeling that you've shown them up as fools.’
    • ‘That he now breaches my privacy by apparently accessing my social welfare records is unethical, illegal, and shows him up for what he is.’
    • ‘We have to take them on on the ground, and show them up for who they really are and what they - really - stand for.’
    • ‘They are so pathetic that it would be easy to show them up for the liars they are.’
    • ‘Writing off communism as a fad for silly kids is just as bad as showing it up as a serious menace.’
    • ‘It has made me dig out my old diary from 1985-6 which is full of embarrassing, poorly crafted rubbish and shows me up to be the young idiot that I suspected I must have been.’
    • ‘Your endorsement of this article shows you up for what everyone knows you to truly be.’
    • ‘All this shows him up for what he is, a particularly vicious form of life that preys on others not to survive but in order to prosper.’
    • ‘It also, more disturbingly, shows us up as a people who are appallingly irresponsible, callous and who have devalued and degraded human life.’
    • ‘They looked fine to the untrained eye, but closer examination showed them up to be fairly sloppy.’
    expose, reveal, bring to light, lay bare, make visible, make obvious, manifest, highlight, pinpoint, put the spotlight on
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1show someone upinformal Embarrass or humiliate someone.
      ‘she says I showed her up in front of her friends’
      • ‘They were always going out with the lads and showing him up.’
      • ‘Today she was determined to show me up by scrubbing her decorative concrete paving with a brush and some ‘Mr Propre’ cleaning liquid (her son works in Brussels).’
      • ‘He always went out of his way to show her up or embarrass her.’
      • ‘But rather than showing them up, he has actually drawn something quite impressive from them.’
      • ‘Are they afraid that their little cousins will show them up?’
      • ‘I'm not saying he didn't spot me through the window, but the fact remains that he was outside for a good hour and I recently showed him up at his club by turning up in a bad tie, crumpled chinos and with holes in the soles of my shoes.’
      • ‘But the people here think they're just trying to show us up.’
      • ‘Robert wants to become a professor (an exalted position in Britain), so does not want a pushy young intern showing him up.’
      humiliate, humble, mortify, bring down, take down, bring low, demean, expose, show in a bad light, shame, put to shame, discomfit, disgrace, discredit, downgrade, debase, degrade, devalue, dishonour, embarrass
      View synonyms