The definition of “hook-up” depends on the context of a discussion, the age of the individual saying it, and cultural settings. I personally have heard and interpreted the phrase in at least five unique ways (which I always ask clarification for, since the term can be ambiguous). That said, if you’re in doubt about the meaning of the term, you’re one of many. Consider these five ways “hook-up” may be defined:
Two People Dating
With some groups (particularly with teenagers), hooking-up may be suggestive of two people in a romantic relationship. It's very much a visual suggestion, in this case, where two individuals have connected to each other, or are addicted to one another. That being said, of the five possible interpretations you’ll see here, this is the one I’ve heard the least.
In this example, casual dating means getting to know a person without any of the commitments that come with dating…yet. It’s almost an initial feeling-out process to see if both parties want to take things further, romantically.
Most people refer to this as flat-out dating, and for the most part, they would be right. There are those, however, that interpret a hook-up as a stepping stone to something more between two people.
Beginning a Relationship
This is another loose term. Not many people in a committed relationship would say they are simply “hooking-up” with someone they’re in love with.
Getting Sexually Physical
This is the most popular definition of the term. If someone brags about hooking-up with someone, it usually means they just got laid, or they’re confident that they soon will. It's can be one time sex, no strings attached relationships or real dating. Some interpret a “hook-up” to include mere kissing, or possibly even oral sex. Others consider a hook-up to mean sexual intercourse. If you hear this term in a college dorm, expect it to mean that someone just got lucky, or is about to.
Hanging Out With Friends
This would be the most popular non-sexual interpretation of the term. Context is important when you’re asking someone if they want to “hook-up later”. If you’re saying it to a friend, they will know you’re asking them to meet at an upcoming time. If you say it to someone you just met, however, they might think you’re very forward and suggesting a sexual rendezvous, which could either work out great or terribly for you.
Also, this term is very popular at sex dating sites like NSA2Night.com
If you’re confused about the term when someone says it to you, the best way to obtain clarification is to ask what they mean by “hooking-up”. Don’t be misled by the term U.K. term, “link-up”, either. “Linking-up” means exactly the same thing - or things - as “hook-up” does in North America.