one-up·​man·​ship ˌwən-ˈəp-mən-ˌship How to pronounce one-upmanship (audio)
variants or less commonly one-upsmanship
: the art or practice of outdoing or keeping one jump ahead of a friend or competitor
engaged in a round of verbal one-upmanship

Examples of one-upmanship in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ruffin does nail some sly bits of jostling banter and one-upmanship among Dorothy’s crew that makes the characters feel a little more real. Karen D'souza, The Mercury News, 22 Jan. 2024 See-Through Screens Photograph: Alex Welsh No one does one-upmanship better than Samsung and LG, especially at CES. Ryan Waniata, WIRED, 11 Jan. 2024 The story, though, once again catches you up in the comic vision of a teen culture that’s now a conspiracy of vindictive one-upmanship. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 10 Jan. 2024 The platform has become a battleground of one-upmanship, where excess is rewarded. Johan Moreno, Forbes, 27 Nov. 2023 Amazon’s The Boys has spent three years playing a game of one-upmanship, initially taking the somewhat fatigued superhero genre out behind the woodshed with layers of corporate satire, increasingly salty and nihilistic language and tidal waves of bodily fluids. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Sep. 2023 But threatening to beat the pulp out of each other represents a new – if not bizarre – form of one-upmanship for the two men. Kristen Barber, Fortune, 17 Aug. 2023 Ronda Kaysen recently wrote about a kind of one-upmanship born out of the pandemic: gloating over mortgage rates. Josh Ocampo, New York Times, 6 Aug. 2023 All of this adds up to a uniquely volatile form of one-upmanship with no clear exit. Van Jackson, Foreign Affairs, 22 Oct. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'one-upmanship.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1952, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of one-upmanship was in 1952

Dictionary Entries Near one-upmanship

Cite this Entry

“One-upmanship.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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