"up to no good" is an idiomatic expression

up to no good: (informal) doing something wrong or dishonest

Those kids are always up to no good.

My children sometimes talk nonsense and I don't want it.

Is it correct to say "are you up to nonsense again?"?

That sounds pretty good to my ears but I am not sure if anyone says that.

Can we twist the phrase up to no good to make it sound idiomatically?

Note: this dictionary says we can use this structure "up to (doing) something"

I am not sure if it is correct to say "are you up to talking nonsense again?".

  • The phrase sounds OK but I don't think it applies in the context you are using it in. "My children sometimes talk nonsense" - but up to ___ means doing something, not just talking.
    – stangdon
    Aug 9, 2022 at 17:17
  • @stangdon But [this dictionary][1] says we can use this structure "up to (doing) something". Can we say "are you up to talking nonsense again"? [1]: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/up-to
    – Tom
    Aug 9, 2022 at 17:34
  • 1
    I think you are slightly confusing two different usages. There is "being up to <verb>" in the sense of "feeling well enough for it", like "You have been very sick, and are still weak. Are you sure you are up to talking to everyone at the party?" And there is a separate sense of "up to something" that means "doing something suspicious".
    – stangdon
    Aug 9, 2022 at 17:59

1 Answer 1


It's okay, but it is rather condescending, perhaps in the form "up to your nonsense" (ie the nonsense things that you do). So use it only if you are talking to your children. It is of limited use for most adult learners of English.

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