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)

1 [ 3upstage ] : haughty
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


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

Kochai allows the occupation to shape the atmosphere within which the characters must survive without upstaging their everyday concerns. Lidija Haas, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 10 Jan. 2019 Her natural beauty is not so much upstaged as complemented by the gorgeousness of St.-Tropez itself, which lolls across the hills behind her, caressed by impossibly blue water and gentle wind. New York Times, "Beautiful People in European Villas: a Film Genre of Its Own," 15 May 2018 Reagan promptly upstaged him with a fiery speech that laid the groundwork for his 1980 Reagan Revolution. Evan Thomas, New York Times, "Gerald Ford, President Nice Guy," 26 June 2018 On this night, the future Hall of Famer got upstaged by a guy who couldn’t even get a starting job nine months ago. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles are no longer underdogs after Super Bowl LII win," 4 Feb. 2018 In that, Macron made the grandest gesture, attempting to upstage Davos itself by gathering 140 CEOs on their way to the conference for a dinner at the palace of Versailles to make his pitch. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202, Davos Edition: Trump makes Trump Steaks-style pitch for foreign investment," 26 Jan. 2018 So that's one theory of how the self-driving car market could evolve: plucky startups upstaging larger, more established players. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "The hype around driverless cars came crashing down in 2018," 30 Dec. 2018 The desire among millennials to upstage and embarrass each other in their bid for social status has not stopped at the borders of the green kingdom. Joe Queenan, WSJ, "The Dark Secrets of America’s Millennial Plant Lovers," 26 July 2018 But the worry over the individual who’s set off an outrage cycle, inadvertently or otherwise, often upstages the real issue. Aja Romano, Vox, "Why the Kevin Hart Oscars backlash is different from other recent public shamings," 5 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 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

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).


showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

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!