When you and your friends are making a bet on which NBA team is going to win, cavs vs golden state, and then the game ended. You win, and you say:

Ok I win, you have to pay me up or pay me out?

  • Neither would take an indirect object. To pay up=pay your debt to me/to pay me what you owe me. A pay out= what a lottery pays to the winner. I won the lottery. But I don't know the pay out.
    – Lambie
    Jun 17, 2018 at 13:35
  • I came across this ''pay out" at BBC learn english yesterday saying when plastic bottles, tin cans and glass bottles are put into a ''recycling machine'' it pays out (money) straight away, in Switzerland. This is close to the pay up as the machine has pay someone...
    – John Arvin
    Jun 17, 2018 at 14:28
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    To pay out money is right for a machine, in AmE or BrE. But your usage is not that meaning. pay out is used in betting as a noun.
    – Lambie
    Jun 17, 2018 at 14:44
  • Someone who "pays up" is upset or chagrined that they have to pay - usually they lost a bet or they're having difficulty settling a loan. Someone who "pays out" is doing an expected payment with no emotion - it could be an actual machine (like the recycling machine or a slot machine) or it could be a commercial entity like a casino or a lottery. Jun 18, 2018 at 18:11

2 Answers 2


As an English speaker myself (American), I would use simply pay up.

Time to pay up.

  • Is this regional or in your country only? Or in general?
    – John Arvin
    Jun 17, 2018 at 14:29
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    I'm not entirely sure. I would expect it to be understood anywhere in the English speaking world . Jun 17, 2018 at 14:31
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    @JohnArvin None of the dictionaries I checked (LDOCE, Cambridge, Macmillan, etc.) mentioned any dialectal preferences/restrictions.
    – user3395
    Jun 17, 2018 at 15:50

In British English, to 'pay up' means to settle a bill or debt, especially when it has become overdue. We would use 'pay out' to talk about the payment of a large amount, e.g. a lottery or sweepstake, an insurance claim, lawsuit, etc. Cambridge Dictionaries says these meanings are valid for US usage too.

pay out

phrasal verb with pay UK ​US

to pay a lot of money to someone:

pay out on sth

A non-traditional insurance policy may pay out on much smaller individual losses.

Pay out

pay up


phrasal verb with pay UK US

to give someone the money that you owe them, especially when you do not want to:

Eventually they paid up, but only after receiving several reminders.

Pay up

  • Oh! So there is difference between each country in the U.S.A and in the UK. Nice to ask this.
    – John Arvin
    Jun 17, 2018 at 16:06
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    It means that in AmE too. If you bet on who will win in an NBA game, and your team wins, the guy(s) owe(s) you money. That's why we say pay up. There is absolutely no difference between BrE and AmE in this sense.
    – Lambie
    Jun 17, 2018 at 16:18

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