6

You're in a park and your friend wants to get up on the wall/tree. You cross your hands, or hold your hands together so that he, better yet she, could get up there. :)

How would you refer to this action? Or, putting it another way, what would you say to the person you want to help in this situation?

I will <verb> you.

Or what would a person who wants to get up on a wall, desk or anything, ask you for?

Please, <verb> me.

There just has to be something for that, or even a few ways to say that. Thanks, guys. Would be really cool to know. ;)

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  • 2
    Good question. I made a few edits to it. One note: I read 'what'd' as "what did", not "what would", so that comes off as ungrammatical to me due to a mismatch in tense.
    – DCShannon
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 1:07
  • @DCShannon, thank you for your edits. I was not sure about shortening it to what'd, so now I know that was not correct. Thanks there ;)
    – Arman
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 17:30

2 Answers 2

11

In my experience (AmE) the two most common expressions are

Give me a boost.

and

Give me a leg up.

Either of these can also be used figuratively - Job re-training programs for the unemployed are designed to give them a leg up in life. If you are looking for ways to improve your English, regular conversations with native speakers can give you a boost.

When used figuratively, giving a leg up may imply a little more help and impact on the recipient than giving them a boost. In the literal usage that you described, they seem equivalent to my ear.

Another difference between the literal and figurative uses is that in literal uses, the implication is that the assistor is at the level of the person being assisted and is helping them get to some higher level. In figurative uses, the assistor may start at a higher status and give someone a boost/leg up to help them catch up.

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    "Help me up" is a more general term that could apply. It would also work for reaching down from above, grasping the climber's hand, and giving a tug. Or anything similar.
    – Adam
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 23:09
  • 1
    +1 for "give me a boost" and the figurative uses. "Give me a leg up" sounds pretty odd to me, especially since the person helping is giving a hand, not a leg. The first thing I thought of was "give me a lift".
    – DCShannon
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 1:03
  • 1
    I agree - "give a leg up" is a weird expression, but it is a pretty common one in the Pacific Northwest, at least. google.com/…" shows, lizards, soldiers, businessmen horseback riders and elephants giving someone/something a leg up.
    – Adam
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 1:36
  • 2
    Apparently that expression is indeed used that way. Wiktionary has it. I would be more comfortable with "Help me get a leg up", rather than "Give me a leg up".
    – DCShannon
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 1:46
5

I don't know how regional this expression is, but one informal way to say this is:

give me ten fingers

which alludes to the way a person may cup their hands and lock their fingers together to provide a boost, like this:

enter image description here

The other person will put a foot in those "10 fingers", and get the boost.

I didn't find many instances of this in literature, but it's the expression Steven King used in his novel It:

“Give me ten fingers, B-B-Ben?”
“I think I can handle that.”
He stooped slightly and laced his hands together.

In a book called Arthur's Soul Adventure by Brian R. Chambers, we find:

“Hey, come over here, and give me ten fingers so I can look in the window,” he said.
Tommy jumped down, weaved his two hands together, and grabbed Arthur's right foot to lift him up.

I also found this in a 2014 e-book entitled Refuge:

Dodge lifted one of his feet up. “Here, give me ten fingers.” Winslow clasped his large hands together and bent low.

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  • Good references. I hope will have time to read them this year.
    – Arman
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 17:41
  • @ArmanMcHitaryan - Just because I find three books that happen to reference "give me ten fingers" doesn't mean I endorse or recommend them. The references were included so that others who might be unfamiliar with that term could be assured that it's a valid way to say ask for a boost. But I could probably recommend better books.
    – J.R.
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 19:15
  • I'm currently reading Come to Grief by Dick Francis, and I must say I very much like his style. What books would you recommend? Maybe a few. I tend to read several books at once, but, you know it doesn't always work :)
    – Arman
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 11:40
  • I grew up with "Give me10 fingers" in our neighborhood. In later years when I asked for ten fingers from a boyfriend he looked at me bewildered. When I explained it to him he never heard of it and thought is was hysterical. All my childhood friends still use the term as use the term at the rip age of 65+ for climbing walls lol! Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 14:01
  • This is definitely regional. Where I come from it might be considered similar to "give someone the finger" only more graphic and definitely more uncomfortable for the recipient!. Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 14:27

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