Rise, Climb or Go Up?

Rise, Climb or Go Up?

“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.” Kobe Bryant, an American basketball player

“You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.” Zig Ziglar, an American author

“Under pressure, don’t go down, go up.” Claudio Ranieri, an Italian football manager

The difference may seem easy to see, but read this concise post to make sure you really can pinpoint it.


We usually use the verb “to rise” to talk about some things:

The aircraft rose slowly into the air.

He saw smoke rising from some of the houses.

As the sun rose in the sky, the temperature climbed.

Bubbles rise to the surface of the liquid.

The cliffs rise majestically from the ocean.

When talking about people, we can use “rise” too, but mind the meaning:

He rose (up) and went to the window. (formal language; = got up)

The next morning Benjamin rose early. (formal language; = got out of bed in the morning)

The phrase “rise and shine” is used humorously to encourage a person to wake up and get out of bed promptly: Rise and shine, it’s already 7!

To rise also means to achieve success, power, or a higher status (1 &2) or to start to protest and fight against a government or leader (3):

1. Martha had risen from humble origins to immense wealth.

2. During the war years he rose to the rank of major.

3. Eventually the people rose against the oppressive regime.


When talking about people, “go up” means “travel towards the north”:

Max goes up to Scotland to fish every summer. He lives in London for the rest of the year.

Of course, as up means towards a higher position, you can obviously say:

Why don’t you go up to your room? (if the room is on a higher floor)

But usually we use “go up” to talk about something rather than somebody:

The price of oil has gone up by over 50% in less than a year.

A new department store is going up on Oxford Street. (= is being built)

Posters for the show are going up all over town. (= They are put all over town in places where people can see them.)

A cheer went up from the crowd. (= The crowd started cheering.)


The verb “to climb” can sometimes mean the same as “to go up” and “to rise.” For example:

Unemployment climbs steadily. (= Unemployment rises steadily.)

Profits climbed, but wages went down. (= Profits went up, but wages went down.)

Wages climbed 13.6% over that period. (= Wages rose 13.6% over that period.)

Prices climbed rapidly. (= Prices went up/rose rapidly.)

The temperature is climbing. (= The temperature is rising/going up.)

So, if something like a temperature, price or level climbs (goes up or rises), it becomes higher.

If an aircraft climbs, it moves up to a higher position in the air (= an aircraft rises).


You know that when it comes to idioms, the right thing to do is just to memorize the expressions as they are. Please do it with the following ones:

  1. to climb the career/corporate/social ladder: 1) To climb the career ladder, the employee should participate in a specified amount of continuing education. 2) Miss Dumfey hopes to climb the social ladder by marrying the local diplomat. 3) If women want to climb the corporate ladder, they may have to sacrifice some of their family life.
  2. to be climbing the walls: After another day of heavy rain we were all climbing the walls. (= We were very annoyed and impatient.)
  3. to go up in smoke/flames: 1) You really do get to see dreams come true, and dreams go up in smoke. (= You see them destroyed.) 2) His career went up in flames when he was jailed for theft. (= His career was destroyed.)
  4. to rise from the ashes: A few months after the earthquake large sections of the city had risen from the ashes. (= They emerged as new.)
  5. to rise from the dead: This was a company that had risen from the dead. (= This was a company that had become successful again.)
  6. to rise to the bait: They offered a good salary, but I didn’t rise to the bait. (= I didn’t accept the offer that seemed good but was a trick.)

Do you have any questions? Please ask them in the comments below, and we’ll be happy to answer them. 😉

That’s just what he wants you to do. Don’t rise to the bait.

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