‘Glow Up’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on December 29, 2022

What does it mean to ‘glow up’? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? In this article, we’ll look at the definition, origin, and sentence examples to help you better understand the meaning of this casual idiom.

The slang phrase ‘glow up’ refers to an impressive and significant transformation in appearance, power, talent, style, or other positive personal factors.

What Does 'Glow Up" Mean?

‘Glow up’ is a casual way to describe a positive personal transformation, typically one that involves major changes in style and appearance. The term ‘glow up’ also commonly implies that a person has experienced growth in maturity and confidence that focuses on the success someone achieves in life.

This phrase can actually be used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it refers to a significant self-transformation. As a verb, it describes the act of transforming oneself in a major way.

You might also see this phrase written as ‘glowup, ‘glow-up,’ ‘glo-up,’ or ‘glo up.’

There are no set rules for what it means to have a ‘glow up’ or to ‘glow up.’ It could be as simple as drinking more water, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting more exercise so that you feel better physically and mentally. It could also mean revolutionizing your life from having been a bitter and resentful person to a positive one that sets goals and works to achieve them.

What Does ‘Glow Down’ Mean?

‘Glow down’ is a phrase that means the opposite of ‘glow up.’ It can be used to describe someone that seems to have experienced negative personal changes over some period of time, whether these are aesthetic, physical, or mental.

Someone might use ‘glow down’ to describe someone that has gained a lot of weight, become less attractive over time, or aged poorly. It could also be used to describe someone that once seemed like they had a lot of potential but has fallen upon hard times in terms of their professional or personal life.

Where Does 'Glow Up" Come From?

The term ‘glow up’ is a play on the phrase ‘grow up.’ ‘Grow up’ is a common phrase that refers to when someone becomes an adult or matures. Both of these terms imply a person experiencing a gradual transformation over time.

In the phrase ‘glow up,’ the word ‘glow’ is used figuratively in a way that relates to confidence and personal appearance. The implication is that the person is now practically growing or shining thanks to the transformation they went through.

The person responsible for popularizing this phrase was rapper Chief Keef, and it’s possible that he was actually the originator of the term as well. In his 2013 song “gotta Glo Up One Day,” he uses the alternative spelling of ‘glo up’ to refer to a positive improvement. A part of the origin story is that his crew was known as the Glo Gang, so ‘glo up’ was a play on that.

In the song, Chief Keef raps about his own rise to wealth as well as a woman who needs to mature. The release of the trap hit made a splash online, where the phrase was discussed at length on Urban Dictionary and Reddit.

The phrase has become even more a part of popular vocabulary thanks to songs like “Glow Up” by Meek Mill and “Glowed Up” by KAYTRANADA x Anderson Paak.

Thousands of people also started posting two pictures of themselves side by side on social media to show their own ‘glow ups.’ The hashtag #gloupchallenge has nearly 40,000 posts, with people showing pictures they feel reflect an improvement in their appearance or confidence.

Examples of 'Glow Up" In Sentences

How would you use ‘glow up’ in a sentence? Let’s look at some example sentences to show how they can be used both as a noun and a verb.

  • “I’ve always thought that I looked weird as a teenager, but now that I’m in my twenties, I see that I’ve really glowed up.’
  • “Have you seen the photos that Jennifer posted? Her glow up is truly inspirational.”
  • How are you doing these days? Judging from your social media, it seems like you’ve had a real glow up since I last saw you.”
  • “I was always worried about Sheila because she seemed so aimless. Now she has a great job, family, and home– in short, she glowed up.”
  • “He’s been working out a lot, eating better, and is looking great after many years of unhealthy living. His glow up has been remarkable.”
  • “She was always self-conscious about her appearance and never wore any jewelry, makeup, or nice clothes. Last year she had a glow up, and you can tell her confidence has gone through the roof.”

Other Ways to Say 'Glow Up"

How else could you describe someone going through a positive personal transformation? Here are some synonymous words and phrases for the term ‘glow up’:

  • Better oneself
  • Flourish
  • Thrive
  • Prosper
  • Change for the better
  • Become a better version of oneself

Remember, to ‘glow up’ doesn’t mean that you just look better to other people; it can refer to all kinds of positive self-transformations. This includes improving your English, regardless of whether you’re a native speaker or learning it as a second language. If you’re on a path of self-improvement, you can learn more about the meaning, origin, and usage of tons of phrases on our idioms blog!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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