Up in the air

Up in the air

If you’re working on resolving an issue but the outcome is still uncertain, you can say it’s up in the air. This means that there are still actions or decisions that need to be made before it is settled.

If you’re planning a meeting or business trip but the exact details are not confirmed, you can say it’s up in the air. This implies that you have a general idea of what you’re going to do, but the details still need to be decided.

You can use this expression in business and everyday life. Here are some examples:

  • They were really happy with our performance on their last project, but it’s up in the air as to whether they will continue with that product next year.
  • I think I’m going to go on vacation next month but my plans are still up in the air. I have to see if I can get the time off work.

Note that we often pair up in the air with the word still, which means “up until the present moment.” By adding the word still you are emphasizing that the uncertainty is continuing into the moment of speaking. Consider this dialogue:

A: Did John get back to you to confirm the date and time of our next meeting?
B: Not yet. As of now, the meeting’s still up in the air.
A: Noted. I hope he gets back to us soon. We’ve been waiting for 3 weeks now.

Did you know? The origin of this word refers to “unsettled particles or matter floating in the air”. Apparently, this phrase has been in use since the mid-1700s.