Why Do Kids Say "Search It Up?"

Tuesday, February 14th 2017

I've been teaching various programming classes through Saturday Academy the past few months. It's been particularly interesting to get the kids perspective on web-related things. Questions like "What's the difference between an app and a website?" yield curious answers and suggest the distinction is surprisingly blurry.

The most curious thing to me though is the phrase kids use when they talk about searching for things on the internet. If you ask them how they find games on the internet it's never "I'll do a search for games" or "I'll search for games." It's always "I search it up."

"Search it up" shows up time and time again in my classes but I cannot figure out the etymology surrounding it. I found this Urban Dictionary definition, which is in-keeping with how I hear the kids use it. I can also find plenty of discussions surrounding whether or not it's grammatically correct, but nothing that seems like a definite origin for the expression.

Trying to be too clever for my own good, I did a Google Trends search for "search up" which produced an interesting graph:

It's certainly looks like its use might be on the rise, but this isn't a very scientific study and it might not mean anything.

The earliest reference I stumbled across was this post in a forum from 2006. It's also achieved novelty t-shirt status on Amazon—a paragon of authority in any field 🙄.

Finally I came across a series of videos from a company called Azoomee — specifically one entitled Internet Safety with Search it Up.

That's my best guess — this series must've been used in the schools around here when teaching about internet safety. It also seems to be British, which is funny to me only because "search it up" sounds like bad English to my ears.