‘Rile Up’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Amy Gilmore, updated on November 19, 2022

Have you ever heard the statement ‘rile up’ and wondered what the saying means? Well, this guide should help. 

‘Rile up’ means to agitate something or someone. To learn more about the meaning and origin, read this guide. It also contains other popular idioms and writing tips to help you use figures of speech to connect with your audience.  

What Does ‘Rile Up’ Mean?

To ‘rile up’ something means to agitate or cause it to become agitated. The phrase is usually used when speaking of a person. For example, do not ‘rile up’ the girl.

Definition of ‘Rile’

The definition of ‘rile’ is the same as ‘rile up.’ It means to irritate something or stir water until it becomes cloudy. Think of a glass of water with dirt at the bottom. If you ‘rile’ the water, you would stir it until the dirt mixes in to create a cloudy mixture. 

Where Did ‘Rile Up’ come From?

‘Rile up’ comes from the word ‘roil,’ which has the same meaning. ‘Roil’ dates back to the 16th century, and it is a derivative of the Old French word 'ruiler,' which means to mix mortar. ‘Rile’ was first used in the 19th century.  

When Do People Say ‘Rile Up?’

People often say ‘rile up’ or ‘riled up’ when saying that they will irritate someone or that someone is agitated. It is a term people use to say that someone is frustrated or mad. 

Examples of ‘Rile Up’

Now that you know the meaning of this phrase, let's take a look at these examples to gain a deeper understanding. 

  • Please do not ‘rile up’ the girls. They have to be at school early in the morning. 
  • He was all 'riled up' but she calmed him down with the bat of an eye
  • Were you ‘riled up’ over the election? 
  • 'Riling up' the board may affect their decision on your project.

Writing Tips for Using Idioms

Learning new words and phrases is one of the best ways to become a better writer. Here are a few other tips to help you use idioms to improve your writing. 

1. Use Figures of Speech Sparingly

Popular sayings can help to make your writing more interesting. However, overusing idioms can make you seem like you are trying too hard and cause a disconnect with the audience. 

2. Use Synonyms Instead of Repetitive Words of Sayings

When you have to use a word repeatedly throughout a text, you should use synonyms, so the piece does not sound repetitive. 

3. Ensure You Know the Meaning

When you use idioms, you need to make sure that you know the meanings. Otherwise, you risk looking out of touch. To ensure you know the meaning of a phrase before you use it, bookmark writingtips.org.

Similar Idioms

You can use similar idioms like the ones below to enhance your writing.

‘Bane of My Existence’

Bane of my existence’ is another saying for a ‘thorn in my side’ or source of my dismay, misery, or pain.

‘Bearer of Bad News’

The 'bearer of bad news' is someone who delivers information that the recipient may not want to hear.

Final Advice for Using ‘Rile Up’ and Other Sayings

'Rile up' means to irritate or agitate something or someone. It is a fairly straightforward phrase to define once you know the meaning. However, if you need a refresher on this or other commonly used idioms, you can always check writingtips.org to verify the meaning.

You can also look up confusing words and tips for writing better emails, letters, and other communications. Excellent writers have many tools they use, and they always take the time to ensure their work is accurate.


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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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