upstage

1 of 4

adverb

up·​stage ˈəp-ˈstāj How to pronounce upstage (audio)
1
: toward or at the rear of a theatrical stage
2
: away from a motion-picture or television camera

upstage

2 of 4

adjective

up·​stage ˈəp-ˈstāj How to pronounce upstage (audio)
1
2
: of or relating to the rear of a stage

upstage

3 of 4

verb

up·​stage ˌəp-ˈstāj How to pronounce upstage (audio)
upstaged; upstaging; upstages

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

upstage

4 of 4

noun

up·​stage ˈəp-ˌstāj How to pronounce upstage (audio)
: 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
Adverb
Anne Egerman stood upstage, flitting through Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics in her lilting soprano. Lila Battis, Travel + Leisure, 2 Aug. 2023 Will Dyanne upstage, or even replace, Jocelyn? Dan Levy is Jocelyn’s publicist Photo: Eddy Chen In a clip shared by Tesfaye, Levy’s character is seen trying to talk Jocelyn into doing a cover feature in Rolling Stone. Jasmine Li, Vulture, 31 May 2023 From my seat in the orchestra, the acoustics in many scenes — which Kail often places upstage or on a catwalk high above — were frustratingly muddy. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2023
Adjective
Ngin strides rapidly upstage and forcefully tears down a set of hanging white curtains. Don Aucoin, BostonGlobe.com, 17 Nov. 2022 Colón concludes the piece on her own, upstage; like the music, her movement stops rather than ends. Jeffrey Gantz, BostonGlobe.com, 22 Oct. 2022 Villaume and the orchestra were no less dramatic forces, but coordination might have been surer if DiDonato hadn’t been so far upstage. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 11 May 2021 Rodriguez and Nieves are dynamic and compelling but, in the process, somewhat upstage Zovatto, whose Tiago really should be the season's star. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Apr. 2020 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, 9 Feb. 2017
Verb
Rickie Fowler, accompanied by wife Allison Stokke and three-year-old daughter Maya, clinched a two-shot victory to triumph for the first time, but the win was arguably upstaged by the young Watson, who rolled in three remarkable long-range putts in a row to thrill hundreds of spectators. Jack Bantock, CNN, 11 Apr. 2024 He's headed to the Super Bowl in his second season − after sweating it out with comeback victories in each of the 49ers' two playoff triumphs − with the honor of trying to upstage Patrick Mahomes in what will be the biggest game of his life. USA TODAY, 30 Jan. 2024 This time characters inspired by The Pursuit of Happyness have a serious conversation in the foreground, getting upstaged by the goofy and loud Metro riders in the background. Andy Hoglund, EW.com, 22 Oct. 2023 An image upstages the many words of this piece, which features multiple versions of the same photo of a young woman, her face framed by a lacy white hood traditional on the island. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 29 Mar. 2024 As the ceremony began, Newsom upstaged the official host — his wife, Jennifer — to pour praise on Brown. James Richardson, The Mercury News, 19 Mar. 2024 Not one of them upstages Shakira, who’s playful or raw as each moment demands. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 18 Mar. 2024 Their owners remain hidden underneath, dry and out of sight, upstaged by their vivid canopies. Christian House, CNN, 22 Feb. 2024 Yet somehow, the largest margin of victory seen at the event since 2006 was arguably upstaged by the most unlikely of sources – the champion’s grandmother. Don Riddell, CNN, 12 Mar. 2024
Noun
Kenyatta has recorded video messages for his estranged daughter, which are projected on the upstage wall, and his face, big as a billboard, looms above Nina’s ugly room, his eyes as staring and huge as a god’s. Helen Shaw, The New Yorker, 22 Feb. 2024 During the climactic moment, a giant load-in door in the upstage wall slowly rose like a curtain onto West 45th Street, which pulsated with color and life. Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Times, 4 Dec. 2023 Read full article From six little lights evenly spaced at the bottom of an upstage scrim, pixel specks of white stream upward like smoke. Catherine Tharin, BostonGlobe.com, 24 Aug. 2023 Some productions open upstage for dramatic views of sunsets and, later, twinkling lights of Los Alamos in the distance. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 4 Aug. 2023 One night when the set was revolving back around upstage, one of the fireworks got caught on a curtain and caught on fire. Leah Romero, ELLE, 24 May 2023 And the lighthearted music at the opera’s end was defied — defiled? — by a heavy-handed upstage military assault. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 30 Mar. 2023 Director Thomas Kail makes the most of Mimi Lien’s striking two-level stage but lets flamboyant Ashford upstage more introspective Groban. Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel, 6 Apr. 2023 The penultimate show of Elvis Costello’s 10-night stand at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre has arrived – Night Nine – and the first surprise of the evening was visible onstage before the show even started: Pete Thomas’ drum kit, upstage, and slightly left-of-center. Connor Ratliff, SPIN, 21 Feb. 2023

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

Adverb

1870, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1918, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1921, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

circa 1931, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of upstage was in 1870

Dictionary Entries Near upstage

Cite this Entry

“Upstage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/upstage. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

upstage

1 of 2 adverb or adjective
up·​stage ˈəp-ˈstāj How to pronounce upstage (audio)
: toward or at the part of the stage or set farthest from the audience or the motion-picture or television camera

upstage

2 of 2 verb
up·​stage
ˌəp-ˈstāj
: to steal attention away from
children upstaging adult performers
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