Printable Version
Pronunciation: waw-kêp Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. (Horse racing) That part of a race when horses are walked up to the starting line as opposed to starting from an automated gate. 2. (Hunting) To flush out game birds by stamping or beating the bushes. 3. An apartment or office building with no elevator or an apartment or office in such a building. 4. A service counter that allows customers to transact business from the outside without entering the building.

Notes: Here is a compound noun with two narrow literal references, but much broader figurative ones. The British seem to prefer hyphenating it: walk-up. It has no verbal use, but is the name of a basketball player, Thomas Walkup, famous enough to make Wikipedia.

In Play: The third sense above is by far the most widespread: "Immigrants feel they have made it in America when they trade a third-story walkup for a three-car garage." This noun may be used attributively (before other nouns) like an adjective: "Restaurants that installed walkup windows for carryout orders survived the COVID-19 pandemic better."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a compound comprising walk + up. Walk originally meant "to wander". It is cousin of German walken "to tumble" and walzen "to roll". All these words descended from PIE wel-/wol- "to turn, wind; round" + k- suffix. The suffix appears only in Germanic languages, but we find the stem in many other places: Sanskrit valati "to turn", Ancient Greek eilein "to turn, coil", Latin volvo "I roll, turn", Russian valyat'sya "wallow", English wallow, German Welle "wave". Up comes from PIE upo "(up from) under". We see it or its remnants in Sanskrit upa "near, up to", Greek hypo "under", English up, and German auf "on".

Dr. Goodword,

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