Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of upon
Meaning of upon by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Alternative forms


    From Middle English upon, uppon, uppen, from Old English upon, uppon, uppan ( “on, upon, up to, against, after, in addition to” ), equivalent to up ( “adverb” ) +‎ on ( “preposition” ). Cognate with Icelandic up á, upp á, Swedish på ( “up on, upon” ) .


    • ( RP ) IPA: /əˈpɒn/
    • Hyphenation: up‧on
    • Rhymes: -ɒn



    1. Being above and in contact with another .
      Place the book upon the table .
    2. Being directly supported by another .
      The crew set sail upon the sea .
      She balanced upon one foot .
    3. At a prescribed point in time .
      The contract was rendered void upon his death .

    Usage notes

    A somewhat elevated word; the simpler, more general term on is generally interchangeable, and more common in casual American speech. In poetic or legal contexts, upon is common .


    • ( all senses ): on
    • ( time ): at


    upon ( not comparable )

    1. Being the target of an action .
      He was set upon by the agitated dogs
    2. Incidental to a specified point in time or order of action; usually combined with here-, there- or where- .
      The clock struck noon, whereupon the students proceeded to lunch .


    up on

    By Wiktionary ( 2012/01/03 23:10 UTC Version )


    up on ( not generally comparable; comparative more up on, superlative most up on )

    1. ( idiomatic ) Well-informed concerning .
      The tour guide was certainly up on his history .
      • 2001 June 24, Christopher John Farley, "The New Video Wizards," Time:
        Says Sigismondi: "I don't watch [MTV]. I'm really not up on what's trendy."
      • 2011 Aug. 25, William Grimes, "Casey Ribicoff, Senator’s Widow and a Style Leader, Dies at 88," New York Times ( retrieved 3 Jan 2012 ):
        “She was up on everything,” said the biographer A. Scott Berg. “Not just the news but every play or film or book.”

Definition of upon by GCIDE Dictionary


  1. Upon prep.[AS. uppan, uppon; upp up + on, an, on. See Up, and On.] On; -- used in all the senses of that word, with which it is interchangeable. “Upon an hill of flowers.” Chaucer.

    Our host upon his stirrups stood anon. Chaucer.

    Thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar. Ex. xxix. 21.

    The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. Judg. xvi. 9.

    As I did stand my watch upon the hill. Shak.

    He made a great difference between people that did rebel upon wantonness, and them that did rebel upon want. Bacon.

    This advantage we lost upon the invention of firearms. Addison.

    Upon the whole, it will be necessary to avoid that perpetual repetition of the same epithets which we find in Homer. Pope.

    He had abandoned the frontiers, retiring upon Glasgow. Sir. W. Scott.

    Philip swore upon the Evangelists to abstain from aggression in my absence. Landor.

    ☞ Upon conveys a more distinct notion that on carries with it of something that literally or metaphorically bears or supports. It is less employed than it used to be, on having for the most part taken its place. Some expressions formed with it belong only to old style; as, upon pity they were taken away; that is, in consequence of pity: upon the rate of thirty thousand; that is, amounting to the rate: to die upon the hand; that is, by means of the hand: he had a garment upon; that is, upon himself: the time is coming fast upon; that is, upon the present time. By the omission of its object, upon acquires an adverbial sense, as in the last two examples.

    To assure upon ( Law ), to promise; to undertake. -- To come upon. See under Come. -- To take upon, to assume.