The jug of milk half full, so he took a glass of water and *.

I am not sure if there's a word for it, but I guess if there lacks a word for it there's a phrase that sounds better than "fill it to the required quantity". What word or phrase would you use?

  • 3
    By the way, it should be "the jug of milk was half full". Several answer correct this without mentioning it.
    – David Siegel
    Apr 12, 2019 at 1:23

4 Answers 4


If you specifically mean the vessel has some liquid in, but not enough, and you are adding more liquid - the same sort, or a different one - to fill it to a required level, that's the phrasal verb to top up1.

The jug of milk was half full, so he took a glass of water and topped it up.

Phrased a bit more naturally:

The jug of milk was half full, so he topped it up with water.

(Topping it up with water sound a bit weird, but okay)

You get this in cocktail recipes:

Cut a lime into quarters and place two quarters into the glass. Add the gomme syrup (or sugar) and rum and muddle together, making sure you squeeze the juice out of the limes. Fill with crushed ice and top up with soda (or apple juice for an apple mojito). Add the sprigs of mint and tease to the bottom of the glass with a spoon, at the same time as gently lifting the lime, sugar and rum upwards.

(From The Guardian's beginner's guide to making cocktails)

You can also use that for materials other than liquids - you might talk about topping up your liquor cabinet, or your supply of pasta. It can even be for immaterial things, like topping up your mobile (cellular) phone's credit, or topping up your bank account by selling unwanted possessions. In these other contexts, it doesn't usually carry the connotation of filling to a specified level, it just means that you think there's not enough and you should get some more.

1: At least, in British English; American English apparently uses "top off", which we use... differently, in British English.

  • 5
    In AmE we'd say top it off rather than up.
    – Kevin
    Apr 11, 2019 at 19:35
  • 1
    @Kevin: Interesting. We use top off as well, but it has a different meaning. It would mean to add something different on top, as a way of "finishing" it, like having a dessert that's, say, fruit fool - which is a fine dessert on its own - "topped off" with cream, meaning some cream added to the top. If we talk about a bad situation, and say a final bit "to top it off", that's like saying "the icing on the cake".
    – SamBC
    Apr 11, 2019 at 19:45
  • 1
    @SamBC In my experience (in Canada), both uses of "top it off" would probably work, in context. For example, if you had a drink and someone else was pouring drinks, asking someone to "top it off" would be understood as filling their cup the remainder of the way. The use of "and to top it all off" is still the same as you're describing it though. "Top it up" would almost definitely be understood; but "top it off" sounds more idiomatic for me.
    – JMac
    Apr 11, 2019 at 19:51
  • Interesting indeed. We do use and to top it (all) off as well, but I feel like it doesn't sound right without the and except maybe in baking directions (top it off with…), but even then I feel like top(ped) with, without the off, is more common.
    – Kevin
    Apr 11, 2019 at 20:02

He took a glass of water and filled it up.

Verb: to fill something up, not necessarily to the brim.


top (something / someone) up
Fill up a glass or other partly full container

...where "something" would be a container (your glass, my car fuel tank), and "someone" would be a person whose container needs to be refilled (hence Can I top you up? = Can I refill your beer glass / coffee cup?).



A more formal option to the previous answers.




to fill something up again

Examples include:

The jug of milk half full, so he took a glass of water and replenished it with water/milk.

The jug of milk half full, so he took a glass of water and replenished it.

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