I read the definition of ground beef on Cambridge just now

meat, usually beef, that has been cut up into very small pieces, often using a special machine

Then I realized that there are lots of verbs followed by "up", such as "cut up", "wash up".

Is "up" in this kind of phrases required or optional?

It seems that getting rid of up does affect the meaning at all, for example

ground beef is a kind of beef that has been cut into very small pieces.

Note: this post is NOT about general phrasal verb, such as stand up, turn up.

If "cut up" and "cut" have different meaning, please explain in detail, some other combination like "stand up", "wake up", cannot help me distinguish "cut up" and "cut".

  • 2
    Does this answer your question? When to add "up" after a verb and when not? Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 0:40
  • @MichaelHarvey Thanks for comment, would please point out a location approximately that matches my OP, I've went through such a long piece to dig in phrasal verb, which is NOT I am asking.
    – brennn
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 0:56
  • Related: ell.stackexchange.com/q/115522/36187
    – Em.
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 8:18
  • Well, they are phrasal verbs. Cut up means divide into pieces. Wash up has different meanings in American and British English, but both are distinct from wash. Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 10:19
  • @KateBunting So, "... has been cut up into" and "has been cut into" have different meaning, right?
    – brennn
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 10:28

1 Answer 1


Adding up to a verb sometimes changes the meaning, but not always. (Stand can mean rise to one's feet as in stand up, or be in a standing position.)

In general, to cut something is to make a cut in it, to cut it up is to divide it into pieces. However, as your example goes on to mention very small pieces, you could omit the up without changing the meaning.

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