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


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


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

transitive verb

: to draw attention away from
upstaging the competition
: to force (an actor) to face away from the audience by staying upstage
: to treat snobbishly


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up·​stage ˈəp-ˌstāj How to pronounce upstage (audio)
: the part of a stage that is farthest from the audience or camera

Example Sentences

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
Ngin strides rapidly upstage and forcefully tears down a set of hanging white curtains. Don Aucoin,, 17 Nov. 2022 Colón concludes the piece on her own, upstage; like the music, her movement stops rather than ends. Jeffrey Gantz,, 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
Leave it to JLo to upstage her own previous wedding celebration. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, 24 Aug. 2022 The simple design will enhance your collections rather than upstage them. Rena Behar, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Sep. 2022 And departing leader Boris Johnson threatened to upstage Truss by going out with a characteristic verbal bang. Laura L. Davis, USA TODAY, 6 Sep. 2022 Emily is talking not just about how criminals might upstage one another, but about how the economy is rigged against people like her: artistically inclined ex-students who are carrying heavy undergraduate debt and are angry with others about this. Kyle Smith, WSJ, 11 Aug. 2022 Its role is clear: Keep the scoop upright, don’t leak and don’t upstage the main player, the ice cream. New York Times, 26 May 2022 Students and faculty alike have looked toward in-person graduations with a mixture of hopefulness and anxiety that the next COVID surge or some other unforeseen event could upstage the ceremonies. Felicia Alvarez, Los Angeles Times, 25 June 2022 But nothing could upstage this spectacular, which was seen by more than 100,000 people during its eight performances at the Bowl. Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2022 And if geographic authenticity and visual caprice occasionally upstage the real story of its heroine? Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 May 2022
The singer-actors file out, not toward the center but to a brick-walled corner at extreme upstage left. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 25 July 2022 Lapine’s inexperience and curvy ways jar with several of the original cast, including Kelsey Grammer, who becomes incensed at Lapine’s confusion over upstage and downstage. New York Times, 28 July 2021 Unfortunately, the geography of the upstage area is sketchy, causing some blurriness in the blocking. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 7 June 2022 Nothing can keep down the opera’s magnificent chorus, although placing it behind a scrim upstage, far from Conlon and the orchestra in the pit, reduced its effectiveness. Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar. 2022 Mirella Weingarten’s dramatic set design situates Khan on a parched, dusty hillside, rising upstage and draped ominously in lengths of rope. Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2021 Instead of hydraulics in the floor that permit characters to descend into hell, the journey is made via a compartment upstage that opens and closes like a restaurant dumbwaiter. Washington Post, 16 Oct. 2021 There’s the stage with different acoustics upstage and downstage, the orchestra level seating area, under the balcony, which is an extremely deep area with a low ceiling, and the upper balcony. oregonlive, 27 Sep. 2021 And as Silky is stumbling upstage with one arm in and one arm out, Eureka is taking us home and nailing the final chorus. Paul Mccallion, Vulture, 19 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use


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

Time Traveler
The first known use of upstage was in 1870

Dictionary Entries Near upstage

Cite this Entry

“Upstage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

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


2 of 2


: to steal attention away from
children upstaging adult performers
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