also holdup, 1837, "a stoppage or check," from verbal phrase (see hold (v.) + up (adv.)). The verbal phrase is from late 13c. as "to keep erect; support, sustain;" 1580s as "endure, hold out;" 1590s (intransitive) as "to stop, cease, refrain;" 1860 as "to stay up, not fall." The meaning "to stop by force and rob" is from 1887, from the robber's command to raise hands. The noun in this sense is from 1851.