gin up

Hello Alan, Mister Micawber, Beeesneees, Mordant and other native English speakers, … r-the-buck
If you plan to sell your home in the next year, you’re probably keen on finding a few ways to gin up its value. For many people that means donning an old pair of overalls, pulling out the power tools and going to work on some ambitious renovation projects.

What does “gin up” mean? says the verb “gin” means:

  1. To remove the seeds from (cotton) with a cotton gin.
  2. To trap in a gin.

Slang which has not yet reached the establishment dictionaries:

gin up: To create or generate, usually something nontrivial. (The author believes it should be “gen up”, but “gin up” is the popular usage.) (Urban Dictionary)

to gin up (third-person singular simple present gins up, present participle ginning up, simple past and past participle ginned up)

  1. To setup a snare.
  2. To exaggerate.
  3. To generate, devise or create.
  4. To stir up, stimulate, enliven, etc. (Wiktionary)

Here’s a possible origin (from Wikipedia):

An 1811 dictionary states: “to feague a horse is to put ginger up a horse’s fundament, and formerly, as it is said, a live eel, to make him lively and carry his tail well. It is said, a forfeit is incurred by any horse-dealer’s servant, who shall show a horse without first feaguing him.”[2] Ginger is an irritant, and when administered to a horse, the horse will carry its tail high and generally act somewhat restless and more lively. In the past, the purpose was often to make an older horse behave like one that was younger, or to temporarily liven up a sick or weakened animal.

Today this practice still occurs, now called gingering the tail or simply gingering. Today the purpose is mostly to make the horse carry its tail high, and to a lesser extent to encourage the horse to move in a lively fashion.

Thank you, MM.

Can I say “create” in place of the “gin up”?

If you plan to sell your home in the next year, you’re probably keen on finding a few ways to [color=red]create its value.

No. The idea is to increase its value in some quick and easy way.

Have other British English speakers heard this phrase before? It’s new to me.

Hi Bev,

It’s a new one to me. And now that I’ve read that description from Wonkiipedia (which is always good for a laugh) I don’t know whether I want to know. Maybe it has the same sense of what Basil Fawlty complained about when he said the Americans have a fondness for the expression ‘kick ass’.


The usage of ‘gin up’ may well be restricted to certain regions. ‘Gin up’ is not something I hear people using in my neck of the woods. However, it can be found in Webster’s Dictionary. Look at the definition for ‘gin’ (transitive verb) here: also has a definition. Look here (under ‘Word Origin and History’):

Here is another link that discusses ‘gin up’:
[size=75]“Gin a body meets a body Comin’ through the rye. Gin a body kiss a body Need a body cry?” ~ James Drummond Burns[/size]

I have never heard this expression in England. Here we might say ‘tart up’.

You could use ‘improve’ its value or ‘increase’ its value but not ‘create’.

Hi Alan,

I didn’t feel I’d been missing out much, either. I like your term for Wikipedia! I assume that is what you meant… though I admit that, just in case, I used Google to check the website didn’t exist… and hence stumbled upon something very close:

Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs! When you make up a word, sure as eggs is eggs Ms Google comes up with an answer. Maybe she should be called Ms Goggle.


Mrs, undoubtedly. Only a wife has all the answers!