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Ramp up vs. Amp Up

Ramping up and amping up sound very similar. How much difference does the letter “r” make in these phrases?

Both ramping up and amping up refer to something increasing. They also look and sound very nearly the same.

graphic comparing the definitions of ramp up and amp up

Ramping up
If you imagine a ramp, you can see how it slowly increases in size. So when something is ramping up, it is getting bigger slowly. Ramping up is different than something spiking or jumping or taking off exponentially.

Ramping up can refer to sales that grow slowly over time. Or ramping up staff for a new project means gradually adding new staff members. Another use for this phrase would be that audience enthusiasm ramped up during the show.

If someone increases the volume of music at a party over a couple of songs, you could say that the DJ ramped up the music.

Amping up
Amping up has more to do with increasing intensity or even aggression. Something can be amped up slowly or quickly. There is no expectation that it will be a slow increase over time.

For example, you can say that the tension amped up after the man insulted her. Or the comedian amped up the crowd.

Therefore, although both ramp up and amp up have to do with something increasing, the change is occurring over a different period of time.

Related: We have a whole section dedicated to similar words here.

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By Patrice Riley

Patrice Riley is the pen name of Dr. Deborah Riley. She is a retired English professor that enjoys grammar, literature, and all things writing.

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