upset

1 of 3

verb

up·​set (ˌ)əp-ˈset How to pronounce upset (audio)
upset; upsetting

transitive verb

1
: to thicken and shorten (something, such as a heated bar of iron) by hammering on the end : swage
2
: to force out of the usual upright, level, or proper position : overturn
3
a
: to trouble mentally or emotionally : disturb the poise of
the news upset me
b
: to throw into disorder
d
: to defeat unexpectedly
was upset in the primary
4
: to cause a physical disorder in
specifically : to make somewhat ill
spicy food upsets my stomach

intransitive verb

: to become overturned
upsetter noun

upset

2 of 3

noun

up·​set ˈəp-ˌset How to pronounce upset (audio)
1
: an act of overturning : overturn
2
a(1)
: an act of throwing into disorder : disarrangement
(2)
: a state of disorder : confusion
b
: an unexpected defeat
3
a
: a minor physical disorder
a stomach upset
b
: an emotional disturbance
went through a big upset after his father's death
4
a
: a part of a rod (such as the head on a bolt) that is upset
b
: the expansion of a bullet on striking

upset

3 of 3

adjective

up·​set (ˌ)əp-ˈset How to pronounce upset (audio)
1
: emotionally disturbed or agitated
was too upset to speak to him
2
: affected with minor physical disturbance or disorder
an upset stomach
Phrases
upset the apple cart
: to disturb or overturn a natural or stable order
Choose the Right Synonym for upset

discompose, disquiet, disturb, perturb, agitate, upset, fluster mean to destroy capacity for collected thought or decisive action.

discompose implies some degree of loss of self-control or self-confidence especially through emotional stress.

discomposed by the loss of his beloved wife

disquiet suggests loss of sense of security or peace of mind.

the disquieting news of factories closing

disturb implies interference with one's mental processes caused by worry, perplexity, or interruption.

the discrepancy in accounts disturbed me

perturb implies deep disturbance of mind and emotions.

perturbed by her husband's strange behavior

agitate suggests obvious external signs of nervous or emotional excitement.

in his agitated state we could see he was unable to work

upset implies the disturbance of normal or habitual functioning by disappointment, distress, or grief.

the family's constant bickering upsets the youngest child

fluster suggests bewildered agitation.

his declaration of love completely flustered her

Examples of upset in a Sentence

Verb That remark you made really upset me. Don't upset yourself over it. It upsets him that he can do nothing to help. A lot of people were upset by the court's decision. It upsets me to think I might never see him again. Spicy food upsets my stomach. Noun In a major upset, he took the gold medal. Her victory in the election was a big upset. Spicy foods can cause stomach upset. An emotional upset can affect your physical health. a period of emotional upset Adjective I was feeling upset by the whole experience. There's no point in getting all upset about it. I try not to let her make me upset. She was too upset to speak to him. I'm upset that you didn't call. I was so upset with him, I didn't call him for two weeks.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
But Take Note Lights and sounds may upset babies with sensory sensitivities. Ashley Ziegler, Parents, 13 Apr. 2024 Attendees, many of whom were children, were enraged and upset with the organizers, a U.K. event company called House of Illuminati, demanding a refund. USA TODAY, 11 Apr. 2024 The muscles will always win, which can upset your gut. Bryant Stamford, The Courier-Journal, 11 Apr. 2024 Shoveling food in your face while you’re distracted is a surefire way to increase stress and upset your stomach even more, Dr. Gentile says. Jenna Ryu, SELF, 10 Apr. 2024 His presence, coupled with the covering of the hostage photos, upset Hamakom members who lost family members or friends on Oct. 7 and had deep connections with families of the hostages. Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 2024 North Carolina State, which upset Duke on Sunday to reach the Final Four, starts five. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Mar. 2024 The two teams are atop the Atlantic Division, and there is still some bad blood between them after the Panthers upset the Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald, 27 Mar. 2024 First off, the performance took place just six days before the 2016 presidential election, in which Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 27 Mar. 2024
Noun
Thursday's Sweet 16 scores and best moments Thursday night was full of upsets and victories in the men's Sweet 16 of the NCAA March Madness tournament. USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2024 Following the tradition of teenage American women pulling off big upsets, 16-year-old Kimmie Meissner uses the performance of her life to soar to the World Figure Skating Championships title. 2008 — Tennessee gives coach Pat Summitt her 100th NCAA tournament win, a 78-52 rout of host Purdue. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2024 The opening weekend of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament was nothing short of thrilling, and March Madness lived up to its name, delivering several upsets and controversial endings. CBS News, 25 Mar. 2024 Cellar Dweller will look to keep the upsets going against surprising newcomer, No. 2 Crazy Norse (Barleycorn’s) in the Sweet 16. The Enquirer, 21 Mar. 2024 Of the 37 games played Tuesday, boys and girls, there were only three upsets. Darren Sabedra, The Mercury News, 14 Feb. 2024 Learn more › The first round of our Bass Lure Bracket is complete—and the road to the Sweet 16 was paved with plenty of upsets. Shaye Baker, Field & Stream, 20 Mar. 2024 On average between 1985 and 2023, there've been just over eight upsets per tournament, or just about 13% of the 63 games, according to the NCAA. USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2024 Teams with one dominant pitcher rather than a few good ones can pull off upsets. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times, 18 Mar. 2024
Adjective
Winner: State Republican Party — The state GOP got involved in a number of local races, despite its anemic fundraising totals, and helped pull off the upset of the night by knocking off liberal Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg. Daniel Bice, Journal Sentinel, 3 Apr. 2024 While the GOP hasn’t won a Senate race in Maryland since 1980, Hogan is a rare Maryland Republican who won two terms as governor, largely due to his criticism of tax increases that resonated with tax-weary voters in his upset victory in 2014. Brian Witte, Quartz, 3 Apr. 2024 Angela Gates, Carondelet softball: Gates, a freshman, was 4 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs in an upset victory over Top 10 team San Ramon Valley. Joseph Dycus, The Mercury News, 1 Apr. 2024 In what some might consider an upset, the World’s Best Single Malt prize did not go to a Scotch distillery—instead, the top honor went to a single malt from a small English distillery in Norfolk that has only been operating since 2007. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 29 Mar. 2024 That's when Curry, 36, became noticeably upset on the court. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 28 Mar. 2024 On the women’s side, Sweet 16 games start Friday, with four games showcasing 1-seed Texas against 4-seed Gonzaga; 2-seed Stanford and 3-seed North Carolina State; 2-seed Notre Dame and 3-seed Oregon State; and 4-seed Indiana looking for an upset against 1-seed South Carolina. Brian Bushard, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 His predicted upset in the South Regional didn’t come to fruition, as No. 2 Marquette overcame a 10-point first-half deficit to defeat No. 15 Western Kentucky 87-69. Chuck Schilken, Los Angeles Times, 22 Mar. 2024 The Golden Hurricane won the American Athletic Conference regular-season title before being upset in their conference tournament by East Carolina. Ethan Westerman, arkansasonline.com, 22 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'upset.' 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

Verb

1677, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1805, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of upset was in 1677

Dictionary Entries Near upset

Cite this Entry

“Upset.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/upset. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

upset

1 of 3 verb
up·​set (ˌ)əp-ˈset How to pronounce upset (audio)
upset; upsetting
1
: to force or be forced out of the usual position : overturn
2
a
: to worry, anger, or cause unhappiness to
the news upset me
b
: to make somewhat ill
spicy food upsets my stomach
3
a
: to throw into disorder
b
: to defeat unexpectedly

upset

2 of 3 noun
up·​set ˈəp-ˌset How to pronounce upset (audio)
1
: an act or result of upsetting : a state of being upset
2
a
: a minor illness
a stomach upset
b
: a period of worry or unhappiness

upset

3 of 3 adjective
up·​set (ˌ)əp-ˈset How to pronounce upset (audio)
: emotionally disturbed or shaken up
was too upset to talk

Medical Definition

upset

1 of 3 transitive verb
up·​set (ˌ)əp-ˈset How to pronounce upset (audio)
upset; upsetting
1
: to trouble mentally or emotionally
the news upset me
2
: to cause a physical disorder in
specifically : to make somewhat ill
greasy food upsets my stomach

upset

2 of 3 noun
up·​set ˈəp-ˌset How to pronounce upset (audio)
1
: a minor physical disorder
a stomach upset
2
: an emotional disturbance

upset

3 of 3 adjective
up·​set (ˌ)əp-ˈset How to pronounce upset (audio)
1
: affected with a minor physical disturbance
an upset stomach
2
: emotionally disturbed or agitated
was too upset to speak

More from Merriam-Webster on upset

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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