A movie narration goes:

An array of automatic weapons hangs on coat hooks on the wall behind them. They tot themselves up with AK-47 automatic assault rifles, automatic pistols, and plenty of ammunition. (source: YouTube)

It seems "tot themselves up" here means "gear themselves up", but the dictionary definition of "tot up" doesn't include this meaning. According to Cambridge Dictionary:

tot sth up (UK)

to add up numbers or amounts of something, or to have a particular number or amount as a total when added up:

Does this phrase also have the meaning of "gear up" in British English? If so please give some other examples as I am not able to find any on Google Books.


3 Answers 3


He says,

They tool themselves up

It means "Let's arm ourselves".

"Let's get tooled up" is a common expression in the UK, particularly in TV crime series. It's sometimes used in a situation where each character will have just one weapon, but it suggests there are more than enough to go round [US: around].

Although it is also commonly used of other tools, such as picks, shovels and drills, I think the expression originated in films [US: movies] and on TV, and was then adopted and used jocularly and bathetically in more prosaic contexts; much as "Let's DO this!", a cliché from action films, is now used before taking the top off a boiled egg.


I have never previously heard "tot up" used in the context of the phrase you quote. I am guessing that it might be a very colloquial usage in some region, or perhaps a writer just playing with words to make the sentence interesting. In normal usage, however, it would not sound correct, because "tot" - as you note - means to count, not to gear.

  • 1
    Just curious, can you confirm that the speaker says "tot"? I'm not sure, but it sounds more like "toll" or possibly "tool" to me. Not sure if others hear something similar.
    – Em.
    Sep 28, 2019 at 1:39
  • 1
    @Em Yes, Em. You're right: it's "tool". Sep 28, 2019 at 7:59

In my dialect, which I suspect mirrors the British usage, "tot up" is short for "total up", ie, calculate the arithmetic sum of some numbers.

[addressing everyone] Thanks everybody, you've been a great help! [aside] Jim, please tot up everyone's expenses and send me an itemized account.

Lots of people have spent money helping me; I want to know how much reimburse them.

I've never heard "tot up" meaning "gear up" in any context, not even movies, so I suspect it's "tote up" or "tool up" or similar.

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