Holed Up: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
February 21, 2024

"Holed up" refers to staying in a particular place, often hidden or secluded, for a period of time. This phrase is frequently used to describe someone who has taken refuge or is hiding, sometimes to avoid a situation or danger. For instance, criminals might be holed up in a safe house, or someone might stay holed up at home during a storm.

In short:

  • It means to stay in a hidden or secluded place.
  • It is used in the context of taking refuge or hiding.

What Does "Holed Up" Mean?

The phrase "holed up" describes a situation where a person or group remains in a place, typically hidden or secluded, for some time. It suggests staying put, often for safety, secrecy, or solitude. Originally, it referred to animals taking shelter in their holes, but it has since broadened to include any form of staying in a confined or secluded space.

More about the phrase's meaning:

  • It implies a temporary and often voluntary act of seclusion.
  • It can be used in contexts ranging from seeking safety to avoiding confrontation.
  • It is often associated with a need for privacy or protection.
  • It can be used metaphorically to describe someone not socializing or participating in usual activities.
  • Similar phrases include "lay low," "hideout," and "take refuge.

Where Does "Holed Up" Come From?

The origin of "holed up" can be traced back to the literal action of animals taking shelter in their burrows or holes. The phrase evolved to describe a similar behavior in humans, referring to seeking refuge or hiding in a particular place. It conveys the idea of retreating to a secure location, much like an animal would do in its den or burrow.

Historical Example

"The outlaws were holed up in a mountain cabin for weeks before they were found by the authorities."

10 Examples of "Holed Up" in Sentences

To help understand the usage of "holed up," here are some examples:

  • Holed up in his studio, he made a living from his vibrant paintings.
  • The celebrity was holed up in a hotel room, avoiding the paparazzi.
  • After the breakup, he holed up in his apartment, not wanting to see anyone.
  • The fugitives were holed up in an abandoned warehouse.
  • They realized it was the real deal when they found the old manuscript holed up in the attic.
  • "Holy smokes!" she exclaimed, discovering the rare birds holed up in the ancient oak.
  • They were holed up in a remote cabin for a peaceful weekend.
  • The soldiers holed up in a bunker during the attack.
  • He's been holed up in the library studying for finals all week.
  • They were on their way to the meeting place when they got holed up by a storm.

Examples of "Holed Up" in Pop Culture

This phrase is commonly used in pop culture, particularly in movies, books, and songs that involve characters hiding or seeking refuge.

Let's look at some examples:

  • Hank Edwards introduces "Holed Up," the first book in the Up to Trouble series, blending romance and suspense as an FBI agent and a civilian witness navigate threats together while confined in close quarters.
  • Tony Joe White's song "Holed Up" from the album "Hoodoo" (2013) portrays a day of solitude with vivid imagery, combining blues and country elements to capture the essence of seclusion.
  • The TV show "Holed-Up" (2017) explores the story of a famous actor dealing with the aftermath of witnessing an assault, confronting inner turmoil, and seeking justice while secluded.
  • "Former meteorologist holed up on Hoel Pond, off the grid," an article that chronicles the life of a meteorologist choosing isolation in nature over modern conveniences, offering insights into a life unplugged from society.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Holed Up"

Here are some phrases that express the same or similar ideas:

  • Lay low
  • Hideout
  • Take refuge
  • Shelter in place
  • Bunker down
  • Seclude oneself
  • Withdraw
  • Retreat
  • Hideaway
  • Take shelter

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Holed Up":

  • What does "holed up" mean?

"Holed up" means to stay in a hidden or secluded place, often for protection, privacy, or avoidance of a situation.

  • Is "holed up" used in a positive or negative context?

It can be used in both, depending on the context. It can imply safety and security or a negative situation of avoidance or fear.

  • Can "holed up" refer to a group of people?

Yes, it can refer to an individual or a group staying in a secluded place.

  • Is "holed up" a formal phrase?

It's more informal and colloquial. In formal writing, terms like "seclude" or "take refuge" might be more appropriate.

  • Does "holed up" always imply a long duration?

Not necessarily. The duration can vary from a short period to an extended stay, depending on the context.

  • Can "holed up" be used in a business context?

It's less common in business contexts but can be used metaphorically to describe someone intensely focused on a task in a secluded space.

  • Does it always mean physically hiding?

No, it can also be used metaphorically to describe someone withdrawing from social interactions or public life.

  • Is "holed up" related to feelings of isolation?

It can be, especially when used in contexts where someone is intentionally avoiding contact with others.

  • Can it have a connotation of safety?

Yes, in contexts like natural disasters or

threats, being holed up can imply seeking safety.

  • Is "holed up" used in literature?

Yes, it's often used in literature to describe characters who are hiding or secluded for various reasons.

Final Thoughts About "Holed Up"

The phrase "holed up" is a versatile term for staying in a hidden or secluded place, whether for safety, solitude, or avoidance. Its usage spans from everyday language to literature and pop culture, making it a useful phrase for various contexts.

To recap:

  • It is often used to convey the idea of staying put in a secluded location.
  • It can be used in positive, neutral, or negative contexts.
  • It is useful in describing various situations,, from personal life to fictional narratives.
  • Understanding its usage helps in conveying the nuances of seeking refuge or solitude.

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