dry 4 PLATES/DISHES ETC British English to rub plates, dishes etc dry with a cloth after they have been washed dry something ↔ up

I’ll just dry up these mugs and we can have a coffee.

dry off | dry somebody/something off ​to become dry or make something dry

We went swimming and then lay in the sun to dry off.

We dried our boots off by the fire.

It seems that British people use "dry something ↔ up" to talk about drying plates or dishes, but the above dictionary doesn't limit it to plates or dishes, it could be "hair" or "car", etc.

I am not sure if British people say "She is drying her hair up"

While "dry something / somebody off" can be used by both British & American people, right?

So, we can say "She is drying the dishes / the car / her hair off" right?

1 Answer 1


No. "Drying up" is idiomatically limited to kitchen things. The dictionary intends a limited meaning when it says "plates, dishes etc" - you should treat that "etc" as referring to crockery, cutlery, glasses, mugs, pans, etc; not hair, car, etc. Drying up is the counterpart of washing up, which we also only use for plates, dishes etc. We say "She's washing the car / her hair", not "she's washing up the car / her hair". So accordingly we would say "drying the car off" (or simply "drying the car"), and not "drying up the car".

  • 1
    That is interesting and clear.
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 6:47
  • Dry up can also have the meaning of make [something] excessively dry. 'The hot weather has dried up the lawn.' Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 9:21

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