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

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 The cave rescue in Thailand rivets the world, and the story upstaged the usual political discussions on the Sunday morning programs. Hal Boedeker,, "Trump interrupts 'Bachelorette'; CBS shifts 'TKO'," 8 July 2018 Walmart was upstaged earlier Wednesday when Masayoshi Son, chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., confirmed during a briefing in Tokyo that the U.S. retailer had agreed to buy control of Flipkart. Bloomberg,, "Walmart to buy 77% of India's Flipkart for $16 billion," 9 May 2018 Pichai would be the latest tech CEO to upstage product announcements to send a message to the billions who use his products. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Google I/O conference likely to address privacy concerns raised by Facebook scandal," 7 May 2018 Kayleigh quickly realizes what the 3-year-old's doing and begins to laugh, all while the happily engaged couple is oblivious to Owen upstaging their big moment. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "Michigan boy, 3, embarrasses parents by turning proposal video into 'peeposal'," 14 May 2018 Trudeau, accustomed to being praised for his Prince Charming good looks, is getting a lot of flak on his tour of India, and the latest gags focus on his razzle-dazzle wardrobe, upstaging even India's flamboyant movie stars. Vidhi Doshi, Washington Post, "India to Justin Trudeau: Stop trying so hard," 23 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.

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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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The first known use of upstage was in 1870

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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)

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