‘Sync Up’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on January 6, 2023

If someone uses the phrase ‘sync up,’ what do they mean? There are five different definitions for the phrase ‘sync up’ with related meanings, and we’ll go over each of them in this article.

In a nutshell, though, ‘sync up’ means:

  • To function or cause to function at the same time and rate
  • To coordinate with
  • To achieve parity of content with something else or to cause two or more things to achieve parity of content with another person or group of people to ensure that all parties have the same schedule, plan, information, etc.

What Does 'Sync Up' Mean?

‘Sync up’ is a phrase that has a number of different meanings. These are:

  1. “To operate or function at the exact same rate and time as something else.”
  2. “To cause two or more things to operate or function at the exact same rate and time.”
  3. “To coordinate with another person or other people so that everyone has the same information, schedule, plan, etc.”
  4. “To achieve parity of content with something else.”
  5. “To cause two or more things to achieve parity of content with each other”

The final two definitions here have to do with the way that digital devices will ‘sync up’ with one another.

In order to understand which definition is being used, you will want to use the larger context in which it is said.

For instance, if you and your group of friends are planning on meeting downtown on Saturday, you could say that you want to have a group chat beforehand to ‘sync up’ your plans. This is an example using the definition in our third bullet point above.

For the first two definitions, you might say that the audio and visuals of a movie you are watching aren’t ‘synced up’ or that you want to troubleshoot the problem so you can ‘sync them up.’

Where Does 'Sync Up' Come From?

The word ‘sync’ dates back to 1929 as a shortened form of the word ‘synchronization.’

‘Synchronization’ is a noun form of the verb ‘synchronize,’ which dates back to the 1620s, meaning “to occur at the same time.” It actually comes from a Greek word that means “be of the same time.” The use of the word in the transitive sense, as in to “make synchronous,” first appeared in the early 1800s.

The shortened version of the word was originally used in reference to matching the visuals of a movie and the soundtracks. The shortened verb form of ‘synchronize’– ‘sync’ –  started being used by 1945. The idea of being ‘in sync’ that uses the term to mean “harmony, an agreement” was first recorded in 1961.

Using the Google Ngram Viewer, we see that the phrase ‘sync up’ wasn’t really used until the 1950s and grew in popularity to the present day.

Examples of 'Sync Up' In Sentences

How would you use ‘sync up’ in a sentence? Let’s look at some examples.

  • “The system isn’t going to work unless we are able to perfectly sync up the motors.”
  • “You’ll want to sync up with Tim before the weekend to ensure that you’re both on the same page about the project.”
  • “It’s weird that my devices aren’t automatically syncing up– I’ve never had this problem before.”
  • “If you really want to go on this journey together, we’re going to need to get completely ‘synched up’ ahead of time. If we aren’t organized, the whole road trip could be a disaster.”
  • “Our new IT guy seems completely amateur. When I asked him if he could sync up my files with the new system, he looked at me like I had two heads.”
  • Let's sync up our plans on Friday to ensure we get to the concert on time.”

Other Ways to Say 'Sync Up'

Now that we have a firm grasp of the meaning of ‘sync up,’ where it comes from, and how to use it in a sentence, let’s look at some other ways to convey a similar meaning.

  • Coincide
  • Get on the same page
  • Harmonize
  • Conform

Looking to learn more English phrases to expand and enrich your vocabulary? Don’t forget to check out 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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