soup » supe

Chiefly in:   suped-up

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • Noxious fumes spurted from the oversized exhaust pipes as suped-up engines revved to deafening effect. (Chapel Hill News, Oct 22, 2005)
  • And the current generation are technology hot-roders who want to supe up cars like the Prius — not with tail fins, but technology and hardware like advanced battery packs. (, October 20, 2005)
  • Participants ranging from suped-up SUVs to military behemoths will be graded on how well they can self-drive on rough road, make sharp turns and avoid obstacles — hay bales, trash cans, wrecked cars — while relying on GPS navigation and sensors, radar, lasers and cameras that feed information to computers. (Globe and Mail, September 28, 2005)
  • Forget cars. The new hot think is suping up your chainsaw. (

Analyzed or reported by:

On October 25, 2005, our contributor Kaz Vorpal entered the putative substitution _supe up»soup up_ in the database, with the following note:

> When you supe up a car, you are making the car super, or supercharging it. Not adding a liquified meal.
> The supercharger was patented in 1900.

This only goes to show how easy it is to create an eggcorn. The original form is indeed _soup up_. Arnold Zwicky supplied the following references:

> AHD4 and NOAD2 both have *only* “soup up”, AHD without further comment, NOAD suggesting that “super-” might have influenced the formation. OED2 has no entry for “supe” v., but does have “soup up” v. from 1931 (in “souped up”), which it suggests might have been influenced by “super-”, but otherwise derives from the following sense of “soup” n.:
> 1911 Webster’s Dict., Soup, any material injected into a horse with a view to changing its speed or temperament.

NSOED and Merriam-Webster Online also cite _soup up_ only.

| link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/10/26 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by pat schwieterman , 2005/10/26 at 12:05 am

    The “souped-up” spelling is so common that its eggcornish origins had never occurred to me. I think it’s pretty clearly mainstream at this point — the 1989 OED has a lengthy list of citations back to 1931.

    Comment moved from the deleted entry souped up»suped up. CW, 2005/10/10

  2. 2

    Commentary by Ken Lakritz , 2005/10/26 at 8:43 pm

    I suspect, but can’t prove, that this terminology began when superchargers were added to cars to improve their performance. If so, this would make ’suped up,’ a shorthand for ’supercharged, the original, and ’souped up’ the eggcorn.

  3. 3

    Commentary by Chris Waigl , 2005/10/26 at 8:54 pm

    As quoted above, several dictionaries claim or speculate that _super_ might have influenced the formation of _soup up_ as used for engines. Maybe the invention of the supercharger does indeed play a role. But this doesn’t make _soup up_ an eggcorn.

    It is now that _soup up_ is being reinterpreted as deriving from a putative _supe up_ by numerous car fans and motor sports writers. But historically, _supe up_ wasn’t used, at least not widely, until recently.

  4. 4

    Commentary by Ben Zimmer , 2005/10/28 at 3:04 am

    The OED includes this citation, just two years after the first
    appearance of “souped-up”:

    1933 C. K. STEWART Speech Amer. Airman 92
    Soup Up, to supercharge.

    So the “soup”/”supe” homonymy was apparently causing confusion from the very beginnings of such engine-tinkering.

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