We often use "undone" and "do up" with clothes.

For example, "your shoe is undone, please do it up".

Now, there is a picture on a paper but the picture has not been colored yet ans so the picture is not finished yet.

Can we use "undone" and "do up" with things that are not clothes, for example, "The picture is undone. please do it up!"?

Or "the project/the food/ the task... is undone, I have to do it up"

  • It's messy, and there are probably no clean rules. Mostly do-up and undone would refer to something that is in some way like a package. But not always.
    – BillOnne
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 14:50
  • Woe is me for I am undone (Isaiah 6.5)
    – mdewey
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


As the comments have already said, it is usual to use the words "undone" and "do up" only in relation to objects that can physically be joined or opened in some way, but there are exceptions. The usual usage is with buttons on clothing, laces on shoes, zip fasteners, string or tape around a package (although wrap and unwrap are more common) or knots in rope.
For things like your paper picture you would use unfinished, incomplete or even "not done".

The picture is unfinished [hasn't been done / coloured in], please complete it.

Many variations with the same or similar meaning are possible.
Your second example is definitely not right. It should be something like

The project/the food/ the task is incomplete [has not been completed / finished], I have to finish it.

The comment about "I am undone" is a special and rather archaic English usage meaning I have lost everything (a fight, money, reputation or similar misfortune) and has no relevance to clothing or parcels!

  • Oxford gives as an example He had left his homework undone, but it's true we would usually say it hasn't been done or similar. Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 17:19
  • @KateBunting Agreed, as I emphasised, there are exceptions and you've found one that I couldn't think of at the time, thanks. I guess this is because some things, like homework, we "do" and hence can be left undone. Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 17:53

Undone in the context of clothing means unfastened - you can 'do it up'.

Undone in the context of a task means 'not [yet] done' - you need to 'do' the task.

(The Biblical quotation mentioned by Mdewey uses an old sense of the word. Modern translations use 'lost' or 'ruined'; 'I am undone' sounds unintentionally comic to the modern reader, as though Isaiah has left his clothes unfastened.)

  • No doubt that is why the quotation was the first thing which occurred to me.
    – mdewey
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 16:18
  • 1
    I suppose I could be a little bit more familiar with older varieties of English than some people but even so I wouldn't really expect 'I am undone' to sound comic to a generic modern reader. If you think about the (much more common and still current) phrase 'come undone' the meaning seems fairly obvious even to the 'yoofiest' of all the 'yoofs' :P
    – Au101
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 0:59
  • @Au101 - Well, I remember people giggling about it when I was young. Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 9:41

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