Pucker Up: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
November 29, 2023

"Pucker up" means to purse your lips together like you are getting ready for a kiss. It is often said to someone to encourage them to get their lips ready for a kiss. It can also mean when something becomes wrinkled or tightened up. For example, your fingers pucker up when wet and pruney in the bath.

In short:

  • It means tightening or pursing the lips.
  • It also refers to the wrinkling or contracting of a surface.

What Does "Pucker Up" Mean?

"Pucker up" is a phrase with two distinct but related meanings. Primarily, it's used as a playful or affectionate way to tell someone to get ready for a kiss, often by pulling their lips together. In another sense, it describes the process where skin, fabric, or some other surface contracts or wrinkles up, like how your skin puckers up in water.

Here’s more on its meanings and uses:

  • It’s a light-hearted expression used in romantic or affectionate situations.
  • It’s also used to describe the physical reaction of surfaces (like skin) contracting or wrinkling.
  • You might hear this phrase in casual, everyday conversations, especially in romantic contexts or when talking about physical reactions.
  • Similar phrases include “prepare for a kiss,” “tighten your lips,” or “wrinkle up.”

Where Does "Pucker Up" Come From?

The phrase "pucker up" likely evolved from the word "pucker," which has been used since the late 16th century. The word originally meant "to purse," as in pursing your lips. Its use in preparing for a kiss or describing wrinkling seems to have become popular in more recent times.

Historical Example

"She whispered ‘pucker up’ with a smile, prompting the young couple's first kiss."

- From a 20th-century novel

10 Examples of "Pucker Up" in Sentences

The idiom "pucker up" is versatile and can be used in various scenarios.

Here are ten examples to illustrate its diverse applications:

  • When he leaned in close, she knew it was time to pucker up and seize the day.
  • If you're going to taste that lemon, keep in mind that you better pucker up!
  • He joked, "Pucker up, it's mistletoe season!"
  • She said, "If you want a kiss, you'll have to pucker up first."
  • Seeing the sour candy, he told his brother, "Pucker up, this one's a doozy!"
  • The little girl would always pucker up when eating sour grapes.
  • "Pucker up and make a wish," she whispered before blowing out her birthday candles.
  • The actor had to pucker up for his first on-screen kiss, but luckily, it was as easy as 123.
  • "If you're going to try that bitter drink, you might as well pucker up now," he teased.
  • I feel you; my lips also pucker up when I eat a lemon slice.

Examples of "Pucker Up" in Pop Culture

The phrase "pucker up" has permeated pop culture over the years.

Here are some instances where it has made its mark:

  • "Pucker Up: The Fine Art of Whistling" - A documentary released in 2005 that delves into the competitive world of professional whistling.
  • The song "Pucker Up Buttercup" by Jr. Walker & The All Stars. While not directly about kissing, the title alludes to it.
  • In the movie "Legally Blonde," Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) says, "Pucker up" in a playful scene before a kiss.
  • A 1980's lipstick ad campaign with the slogan "Pucker up, princess" highlighted the product's ability to make lips kissable.
  • "Pucker Up" - A track by Ciara from her 2015 album "Jackie."
  • In an episode of "Friends," Phoebe uses "pucker up" humorously when discussing her grandmother's old-age rituals.
  • In the rom-com "27 Dresses," the protagonist's little niece cheekily tells her to "pucker up" before a wedding scene.
  • The "Pucker Up Challenge" went viral on social media platforms, where participants showcased their most creative puckered lip looks.

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

While "pucker up" is a distinctive idiom, there are other expressions and phrases related to puckering one's lips, especially in the context of kissing or showing anticipation.

Here's a list:

  • Purse your lips
  • Prepare to smooch
  • Get ready for a peck
  • Brace for a kiss
  • Set your lips
  • Ready your lips
  • Tighten your lips
  • Draw your lips together
  • Form a kiss
  • Make a smooching face

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Pucker Up":

  • What exactly does "pucker up" mean?

It generally means to prepare your lips for a kiss by drawing them together, or to react to a sour or bitter taste.

  • Where did the idiom "pucker up" originate?

The exact origins are unclear, but it's believed to be an American idiom from the 20th century, drawing on the action of puckering lips for a kiss or in response to a sour taste.

  • Is "pucker up" used in any specific context?

While often used in romantic contexts related to kissing, it can also be used humorously or in relation to tasting something sour.

  • Can "pucker up" be used in formal writing?

It's mostly a colloquial expression and might not be suitable for very formal contexts, but it can be used in creative or informal writing.

  • Is "pucker up" a phrase used globally?

While it's commonly understood in English-speaking countries, it might not be familiar to non-English speakers or in cultures where English isn't the primary language.

  • Are there any songs titled "Pucker Up"?

Yes, there are several songs with that title or similar phrasing, like "Pucker Up Buttercup" by Jr. Walker & The All Stars.

  • Can "pucker up" be used in contexts other than kissing?

Absolutely! It can refer to any situation where the lips are drawn together, such as when tasting something sour.

  • Are there any movies or books with the title "Pucker Up"?

Yes, there's a documentary titled "Pucker Up: The Fine Art of Whistling" and it's possible there are books or other media with similar titles or themes.

  • What's the opposite of "pucker up"?

There isn't a direct antonym, but "relax your lips" or "loosen up" might convey the opposite action.

  • Is "pucker up" a modern phrase, or has it been around for a while?

It's been around for a while, at least since the 20th century, but its popularity in pop culture has given it a timeless feel.

Final Thoughts About "Pucker Up"

The phrase "pucker up" adds a playful or descriptive touch in various contexts, from romantic gestures to the physical reaction of skin. It's a versatile phrase understood across different ages and cultures, highlighting the diverse ways we use language to describe both affectionate gestures and physical reactions.

Here's a quick recap:

  • It's used both for kisses and describing things that wrinkle or contract.
  • "Pucker up" has a long-standing presence in English, appearing in modern and classic contexts.
  • Its usage is typically light-hearted and can be found in various forms of media.
  • The phrase is understood internationally, though its exact translation may vary.

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