up·​stage | \ ˈəp-ˈstāj How to pronounce upstage (audio) \

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)

2 : of or relating to the rear of a stage


up·​stage | \ ˌəp-ˈstāj How to pronounce upstage (audio) \
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 How to pronounce upstage (audio) \

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

Verb 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 Only the world’s biggest movie star could upstage her own movie with each fearsome scowl. Joey Nolfi,, "Critics praise Angelina Jolie in 'enjoyably deranged' sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," 15 Oct. 2019 In the lead-up to October 1, the focus was on whether China's leaders would crack down in Hong Kong or otherwise try and stop the city from upstaging the capital with inevitable protests. James Griffiths, CNN, "Hong Kong protesters set out to spoil China's big day. They succeeded," 1 Oct. 2019 It’s hard to upstage Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who have become known for their adorable royal displays over the years, but little brother Prince Louis knows how to get a laugh (and melt hearts) too! Stephanie Petit,, "Prince Louis Was the 'Unexpected' Star of the Royal Family's Polo Outing: 'He Is a Real Character'," 11 July 2019 Mr Salvini has spent the past year relentlessly undercutting and upstaging the M5S. On some issues, such as the conflict over a high-speed-rail tunnel that precipitated the fall of the government, the M5S and the League are diametrically opposed. The Economist, "Now is not the time for an election in Italy," 22 Aug. 2019 Carrie Underwood may be upstaged, literally, at her Tuesday concert here. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Carrie Underwood set to ‘Cry Pretty’ at Pechanga Arena San Diego," 5 Sep. 2019 Throughout the ordeal, however, action upstages romance giving Eui-Ju agency in saving her own life. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Korean disaster flick ‘Exit’ raises rock-climbing slacker to hero," 1 Aug. 2019 And either way, for the moment, Gab has arguably upstaged the work of admins and developers who have been nurturing their communities for years. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "How the biggest decentralized social network is dealing with its Nazi problem," 12 July 2019 Lionel Richie is the sort of guy with enough personality, charisma and talent that not even an exploding sky above can upstage him. Ross Raihala, Twin Cities, "Not even a premature fireworks display can stop Lionel Richie from lighting up the Grandstand," 30 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun They and their castmates execute spins and jetés with a winning nimbleness on Jason Sherwood’s bare set, its focal point an upstage wall covered in vinyl that glows red or violet in Adam Honoré’s drama-heightening lighting. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "‘A Chorus Line’ is back, and you’ll enjoy the new spring in its step.," 7 Nov. 2019 Additionally, Jennifer Tipton’s lighting inks the background in warmest black and subsequently bathes the dancers and their upstage dancing in a translucent bluish hue. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "‘Minimalism and Me’ Review: Twyla Tharp Tells Her Story," 19 Nov. 2018 But the most viscerally intense moment arrives with a very recent addition to the roster of characters, making a cameo in a parade of historically significant leaders, each one’s name projected huge on the upstage screen. Laura Collins-hughes, New York Times, "Review: A Salon With Strangers in a Freewheeling ‘War and Peace’," 30 Mar. 2018 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

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for upstage

Time Traveler

The first known use of upstage was in 1870

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Cite this Entry

“Upstage.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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More Definitions for upstage


How to pronounce upstage (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of upstage

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: toward the back part of a stage


How to pronounce upstage (audio)

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

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not agreeing with established beliefs

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