up·​on | \ ə-ˈpȯn How to pronounce upon (audio) , -ˈpän \

Definition of upon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: on


up·​on | \ ə-ˈpȯn How to pronounce upon (audio) , -ˈpän \

Definition of upon (Entry 2 of 2)

1 obsolete : on the surface : on it
2 obsolete : thereafter, thereon

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Synonyms for upon

Synonyms: Preposition

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Examples of upon in a Sentence

Preposition He carefully placed the vase upon the table. They built their city upon a cliff overlooking the sea. She was seated upon a throne. an assault upon traditional values She was admitted to his office immediately upon her arrival. That kind of behavior is frowned upon.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition That means calling upon tropical fruits and sultry sauces like mole, which breathe life into carrots, cabbage, and other Hudson storage crops. Carla Perez-gallardo And Hannah Black, Bon Appétit, "6 Tropical-Inspired Recipes That Make Us Forget It's Winter," 15 Jan. 2020 So if anything like that is stumbled upon, that’s going to say something different than a pit that people threw a bunch of pigs into randomly. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "What fossils will modern-day civilization leave behind?," 6 Jan. 2020 Once upon a time, politicians who made voters happy could rely on them to return to office. The Economist, "2019 in review: Protest and global warming," 28 Dec. 2019 On the experience side, the restaurant is full of extras like champagne poured upon arrival, a martini cart rolling through the dining room and baked Alaska set afire tableside. Allyson Reedy, The Know, "Meet the Colorado chef who opened an ambitious new restaurant while battling incurable brain cancer," 26 Dec. 2019 Despite these concerns, the era of newborn sequencing is now upon us, and the practice will likely become more widespread as costs come down and the results become more accurate and useful. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "23 and Baby," 24 Dec. 2019 Apparently, someone took it upon themselves to mix a few tasty liqueurs )after having a few tasty liqueurs), found out the combination tasted halfway decent, had a few more, and then decided to name this drink. Matt Wettish, Field & Stream, "9 Hunting Camp Cocktails for the Holidays," 20 Dec. 2019 Already, almost all the 2020 candidates (both on and off the December stage) have called upon the DNC to loosen the rules to qualify for the January 14 face-off in Des Moines, the last debate before the Iowa caucuses. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Tom Perez’s Preposterous Debate Rules," 19 Dec. 2019 Olesen, 29, of Chelsea, southwest London, was arrested upon arrival at Heathrow Airport on July 29 after a flight from Nashville following his participation in a World Golf Championships event in Memphis, PA Media news agency reported. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Danish golfer Thorbjorn Olesen denies sexual assault charge," 13 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'upon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of upon


12th century, in the meaning defined above


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for upon

Time Traveler

The first known use of upon was in the 12th century

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Statistics for upon

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Upon.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/upon. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for upon

How to pronounce upon (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of upon

used to say that someone or something is very close or has arrived
used to emphasize something that is repeated many times
up·​on | \ ə-ˈpȯn How to pronounce upon (audio) , ə-ˈpän \

Kids Definition of upon

: on entry 1 I put the plate upon the table. … she was glad to be an ordinary person who would never be called upon for courage.— Lois Lowry, Number the Stars

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More from Merriam-Webster on upon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for upon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with upon

Spanish Central: Translation of upon

Nglish: Translation of upon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of upon for Arabic Speakers

Comments on upon

What made you want to look up upon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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