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Full vs. Full Up: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 5, 2024
"Full" denotes being completely filled or containing as much as possible, while "full up" is a colloquial phrase often used to specifically indicate no remaining space or capacity.

Key Differences

"Full" is a versatile adjective used to describe something that is completely filled, lacking empty space, or having reached its capacity. It's broadly applicable across various contexts. In contrast, "full up" is a more colloquial expression, generally used to emphasize that there is no more space or capacity left, often in a more informal or conversational context.
The word "full" can be used in both literal and figurative senses, like a full glass of water or a full understanding of a topic. "Full up," however, is mostly used in a literal sense, such as when referring to a container or space that can't accommodate any more items.
In grammar, "full" can function as an adjective, adverb, or noun, depending on the context. "Full up," on the other hand, is primarily used as a compound adjective and is less flexible in its grammatical roles.
"Full" is widely accepted in formal and written English, while "full up" tends to be more colloquial and is more commonly found in spoken or informal English.
The term "full" is universally understood in English-speaking regions, whereas "full up" might be less recognized or understood as regional slang in some areas.

Comparison Chart


Full Up

Usage Context

Broad, in both formal and informal
Mostly informal, colloquial

Grammatical Function

Adjective, adverb, noun
Primarily a compound adjective

Literal/Figurative Use

Both literal and figurative
Mostly literal


Suitable for formal and written text
More suitable for spoken and informal text


Widely recognized and understood
May be considered regional or slang

Full and Full Up Definitions


Completely filled to capacity.
The glass was full of water.

Full Up

Having no remaining space or capacity.
The parking lot is full up.


Not lacking or omitting anything.
He told the full story.

Full Up

Completely occupied.
The storage room is full up with boxes.


Complete in every aspect.
He had a full understanding of the subject.

Full Up

Having reached a point where no more can be added.
The schedule is full up, no room for more appointments.


Maximum or entire.
She gave her full attention to the task.

Full Up

Unable to contain or hold any more.
The suitcase is full up, can't add anything else.


At the highest or greatest extent.
The moon was full last night.

Full Up

Filled to the brim or maximum capacity.
The jar is full up with cookies.


Containing all that is normal or possible
A full pail.


Complete in every particular
A full account.


Is "full up" a proper English term?

While "full up" is grammatically correct, it's more informal and less common in formal writing.

What does "full" generally mean?

"Full" typically refers to something that is completely filled or contains as much as it can hold.

Can "full" be used in different contexts?

Absolutely, "full" can describe physical capacity (like a full glass), completeness (a full circle), or intensity (full of energy).

Is "full" an adjective?

Yes, "full" is primarily used as an adjective.

What does "full up" mean?

"Full up" is a colloquial phrase meaning completely filled to capacity, often used informally.

Does "full" have a specific meaning in food contexts?

In the context of food, "full" often means satiated or having no desire to eat more.

Does "full" have synonyms?

Yes, like "packed," "brimming," or "complete."

How is "full" used in mathematics?

"Full" can describe a complete set or 360 degrees in a circle.

Can "full" be a noun?

Rarely, but it can be used in specific contexts, like "to the full" (to the maximum extent).

Can "full" also mean 'complete' in terms of time?

Yes, "full" can refer to a complete duration, as in "a full hour."

Is "full up" used in American English?

"Full up" is understood in American English, but it's more commonly used in British English.

Can "full" describe a state of attention?

Yes, as in "full focus" or "full attention."

Can "full" describe emotions?

Yes, "full" can describe emotions, like being "full of joy."

Can "full" be used with abstract concepts?

Yes, like "full of ideas."

Can "full" be part of a compound word?

Yes, like "full-time" or "full-length."

Is "full up" appropriate in academic writing?

Generally, no. It's too informal for most academic writing.

Is "full up" commonly used in literature?

It appears occasionally but is not prevalent in formal literature.

Does "full up" have different meanings in different regions?

Its meaning is generally consistent, but usage frequency varies.

Is "full up" used in technical contexts?

Rarely. "Full up" is more suited for casual conversations.

Can "full up" be a verb?

No, "full up" is not used as a verb.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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