up·​stage | \ˈəp-ˈstāj \

Definition of upstage 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1 : toward or at the rear of a theatrical stage

2 : away from a motion-picture or television camera



Definition of upstage (Entry 2 of 4)

1 [ 3upstage ] : haughty

2 : of or relating to the rear of a stage


up·​stage | \ˌəp-ˈstāj \
upstaged; upstaging; upstages

Definition of upstage (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to draw attention away from upstaging the competition

2 : to force (an actor) to face away from the audience by staying upstage

3 : to treat snobbishly


up·​stage | \ˈəp-ˌstāj \

Definition of upstage (Entry 4 of 4)

: the part of a stage that is farthest from the audience or camera

Examples of upstage in a Sentence


We don't want the flower girl upstaging the bride. My apple pie was upstaged by her chocolate cake.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

An original page from a 1974 edition of The Pittsburgh Press, an afternoon paper published from 1884 to 1992, is taped to the backside of the upstage door. Erik Piepenburg, New York Times, "Inside the ‘Jitney’ Set: Picturing Pittsburgh Onstage," 9 Feb. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Kris Jenner was conspiring to upstage the royal wedding. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "7 Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Conspiracy Theories So Ridiculous You Have to Laugh," 18 July 2018 Though many in the royal family have released statements expressing their congratulations and well-wishes, British tabloids have accused Harry and Meghan of upstaging Princess Eugenie’s wedding. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "Confirming speculation at Friday’s royal wedding, Kensington Palace announced the news Monday.," 15 Oct. 2018 The difference, according to The Express, is that Eugenie and Beatrice hold the same royal rank, and thus neither would upstage the other. Emma Dibdin, Town & Country, "All the Ways Princess Eugenie's Wedding Broke Royal Tradition," 12 Oct. 2018 The greatest part, however, may be how those in the seventies manage to upstage all the thirty and forty year olds on the dance floor. Maresa Manara, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Tours in Rome," 4 Mar. 2018 Rebecca carefully chose a dress that wouldn’t upstage Kate, and meticulously chose her words when her daughter called her from the road. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is Us Just Teased the Future with the Most Devastating Final Scene," 14 Mar. 2018 Some have even gone as far as to jump to comparisons between Meghan and the Duchess of Cambridge, who was careful to wear a look by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen that she's worn twice before, so as not to upstage the bride. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Twitter Is Calling Meghan Markle's Wedding Gown "Ill-Fitting" and "Boring"," 19 May 2018 Stubby’s feats of derring-do would upstage the human interest even if those humans didn’t look eerily round and smooth. Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times, "A War Dog Salutes in ‘Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero’," 12 Apr. 2018 Then again, when trying to upstage the regime of a bombastic blowhard on the world stage, never send a Mike Pence to do a Donald Trump’s job. Chas Danner, Daily Intelligencer, "Pence’s Anti-North Korea PR Campaign Bombs," 10 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That set is dominated by an upstage wall of painted glass with revolving panels, lighted by Jason Fassl in lurid and shifting colors suggesting a phantasmagorical Turner seascape. Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Door County theaters add stories and sparkle to summer nights," 11 July 2018 With a floor of honey brown and an upstage wall like a minimalist Kandinsky, the stage is bare at the start and filled piece by piece with chairs and long wooden tables: for reading at, for dancing on, for dying at. Laura Collins-hughes, New York Times, "Review: Pulled Apart by ‘Love and Intrigue’," 8 June 2018 The orchestra of seven musicians lurks upstage, just as music often lurks in memory; the lighting by Thom Weaver is happily subtle. Toby Zinman,, "'Fun Home' at the Arden: Quiet brilliance, lovely and profound," 24 May 2018 The set has also been placed far upstage, suggesting Gunner’s receding tide of sanity. Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man with dementia faces the endgame in 'Outgoing Tide'," 25 Feb. 2018 The references to illumination are of the moon, quite literally, with a round, orangey orb rising on the upstage scrim throughout the work's 25 minutes. Lauren Warnecke,, "In rare performance, choreographer Doug Varone takes to stage along with his dancers at Columbia," 9 Feb. 2018 Media: Hartford Curant Class of 2018 students went upstage in front of the supporting crowd and signed their name on a white poster with their school logo. Kaila Contreras, Houston Chronicle, "Signing day not just for athletes for Summer Creek High School seniors," 25 Apr. 2018 And, finally, there’s an upstage hallway (visible through a glass wall) featuring a huge logo of the school’s mascot: a bravely grinning tiger who wants to be ferocious but instead looks declawed and powerless. Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Teachers battle the odds and get their due in Forward Theater's 'Exit Strategy'," 20 Jan. 2018 Rose’s set is built around an upstage loggia with an overhead walkway and stairs that lead down to the marketplace. Jeffrey Gantz,, "Boston Ballet elevates Cranko’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’," 16 Mar. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of upstage


1870, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1918, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1921, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1931, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about upstage

Statistics for upstage

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for upstage

The first known use of upstage was in 1870

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for upstage



English Language Learners Definition of upstage

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: toward the back part of a stage



English Language Learners Definition of upstage (Entry 2 of 2)

: to take attention away from (someone or something else, such as another performer)

More from Merriam-Webster on upstage

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with upstage

Comments on upstage

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


to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!