Dear experts,

Are the expressions COVER FOR SOMEONE and COVER UP FOR SOMEONE freely interchangeable in both meanings or only in one:

cover for someone
cover up for someone

cover for someone - 1. carry out the essential duties of a fellow employee, absent through sickness, etc.: I will cover for you while you are away.
2. conceal smb.'s wrongdoing; provide an excuse for a person: She said that Zaikas had covered for Isaac, who was a party to the state-hospital scandal.

Thank you,

Original Post
"Cover for someone" has the essential meaning that you describe in your first sentence: to carry out the duties for someone else. "Cover for" can be used to conceal somebody's wrongdoing, too.

On the other hand, "cover up for someone" always has the meaning of concealment. It would cast aspersions on someone if you said: "I covered up for him last week." This would indicate that you lied on his behalf, or made excuses for him, instead of just taking over his job duties while he was legitimately away.

If you know in advance that you will be away from your job, you get someone to cover for you, not to cover up for you. You might ask anybody to cover for you, but only a co-conspirator to cover up for you.


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