During the Doctor Who tour, these guys are experiencing a big jet lag
The public interviews 2 actors (Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman), who have had a big jet lag. Public : "How are you all upright and awake at this point ?", Peter Capaldi : "Time has lost its meaning"

So I was trying to translate (in French) "How are you all upright and awake at this point?", so I translated "awake" as "réveillés", but I don't know how to translate "upright", which is a synonym of "straight"/"vertical" (or even "honest", but this doesn't mean anything in this context), so I could translate it by "debout" (which is the french for "standing", and might be used to express the fact that somebody is awake), but the problem is that "debout" and "réveillé" are redundant, so to translate it I would need to understand what is the difference between "upright" and "awake" in this context ?

  • I've left you a message on chat since my remark is about French and not English!
    – None
    Aug 18, 2014 at 10:37
  • @Laure Thanks ! I'll check it when I'll be back at home (unfortunately the SE iOS app don't let me access my chat) Aug 18, 2014 at 13:06

3 Answers 3


I'm sorry, I don't know French (hence, you may not precisely find what you are looking for) but I'll try to answer the difference you asked.

Upright certainly means in vertical position. Awake means they are not sleeping. Putting these both words together merely emphasizes that they are not affected by their biological cycle of sleep i.e. Circadian Cycle (that's why, the reply is 'time has lost its meaning) and they are very much awake with no sign of even drowsiness. For instance, we can use fully awake with the eyes wide open to emphasize their wakefulness.

  • 2
    I would stress that, while they are using 'upright' to mean 'vertical', they specifically mean that they are sitting up rather than lying down in bed. It's a jokey way of saying "How are you all out of bed and awake right now?"
    – jfhc
    Aug 18, 2014 at 8:06
  • Thanks a lot to you two, now I clearly understand what it means and I'll try to find the best French translation possible. Aug 18, 2014 at 13:04

The other answers are literally accurate, but there is also a connotation that one can be upright and moving around but metaphorically still asleep, such as someone who is very dependent on caffeine before they have their morning coffee, or someone who has not gotten enough sleep. In my office, it is common in the mornings for someone to ask, "how are you this morning?" and the other person to respond, "Well, I'm up." The implication is that they are awake enough to drag themselves to the office, but are neither fully awake nor happy about being out of bed. Someone who is upright but not "awake" in this sense may have delayed responses, slur their speech, have difficulty focusing, and otherwise behave much like someone who is inebriated.

See also the idiomatic phrases "not firing on all cylinders" and "the lights are on but nobody's home".


"Upright" simply means "not lying down" or "not collapsed on the floor". You could be awake but not upright, if you're lying down but not sleeping. If you're sleeping in a chair, you could be (mostly) upright but not awake.

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