up·​start | \ ˌəp-ˈstärt How to pronounce upstart (audio) \
upstarted; upstarting; upstarts

Definition of upstart

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to jump up (as to one's feet) suddenly


up·​start | \ ˈəp-ˌstärt How to pronounce upstart (audio) \

Definition of upstart (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one that has risen suddenly (as from a low position to wealth or power) : parvenu especially : one that claims more personal importance than is warranted
2 : a start-up enterprise

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Other Words from upstart


upstart \ ˈəp-​ˈstärt How to pronounce upstart (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for upstart

Synonyms: Noun

arriviste, nouveau riche, parvenu

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Examples of upstart in a Sentence


a young upstart from Harvard who thinks he knows more than the boss having made their money in oil decades ago, they consider these billionaire dot-commers mere upstarts

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Managing one of the era’s most popular girl groups and upstarting the career of the greatest living entertainer should have seen Mr. Knowles in a position similar to Barry Gordy or at the very least, DJ Khaled., "We Will Never Find Out Who Bit Beyoncé — Or Crack These Other Unsolved Beyoncé Mysteries," 28 Mar. 2018 Ben & Jerry’s has rapidly lost U.S. market share to upstart low-calorie ice-cream brand Halo Top, while Unilever’s European deodorant business has had to contend with cut-price German rivals. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "Unilever Cost-Cutting Turns Out to Be Twisty Path to Profits," 19 Oct. 2017 Cleveland music fans will get everything from a few Rock & Roll Hall of Famers to upstart hip-hop acts and some of the biggest pop stars in the world like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars., "20 concerts to see in Cleveland this August," 7 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Rather than resenting the upstart, the great and the good embraced him, awed by his knowledge of arcane subjects such as finance, dazzled by the bright light of his intellect and by his sparkling prose. The Economist, "A new biography of Walter Bagehot, “the greatest Victorian”," 8 Aug. 2019 Anne Wojcicki, who heads up the DTC genetic testing upstart 23andMe, also comes to mind (although that company isn't public). Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "A $43 Billion Biotech Now Has a Female CEO: Brainstorm Health," 25 July 2019 Through impeccable management across the board and youthful impetus, both these upstarts have risen above and beyond their rivals, and can now unquestionably boast to being the bigger, better team., "Washed: How Arsenal & the New York Knicks Became the Laughing Stocks of Their Player Markets," 16 July 2019 Savings accounts that offer generous interest rates are emerging as a key battleground for financial upstarts. John Detrixhe, Quartz, "Fintechs are competing to offer the highest interest rates for savings accounts," 23 July 2019 There is as much personal political advantage for the radical upstarts in being perceived as the president’s chief antagonists as for the president in branding them as such. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "No One Really Wants to ‘Send Her Back’," 20 July 2019 How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying Frank Loesser’s classic musical satire about a young upstart climbing the corporate ladder. Matt Cooper,, "SoCal theater, July 14-21: Musical parodies of ‘Friends’ and ‘Lost’ and more," 12 July 2019 Williams withstood a late surge from American upstart Alison Riske in the Wimbledon quarterfinals on Tuesday to hold onto a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win — moving one step closer to what would be her 24th career Grand Slam singles title. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Serena Williams withstands surge from Alison Riske to reach Wimbledon semifinals," 9 July 2019 Or will his temper — or some needling upstart — get the better of him? Ap Mcclatchy, The Mercury News, "Watch Democratic debate Night 2: Biden’s bull’s-eye, Sanders’ attitude and other things to watch for," 27 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'upstart.' 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 upstart


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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up sticks

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Time Traveler for upstart

The first known use of upstart was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for upstart



English Language Learners Definition of upstart

disapproving : a person who has recently begun an activity, become successful, etc., and who does not show proper respect for older and more experienced people
chiefly US : a newly successful person, business, etc.


up·​start | \ ˈəp-ˌstärt How to pronounce upstart (audio) \

Kids Definition of upstart

: a person who gains quick or unexpected success and shows off that success

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More from Merriam-Webster on upstart

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with upstart

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for upstart

Spanish Central: Translation of upstart

Nglish: Translation of upstart for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of upstart for Arabic Speakers

Comments on upstart

What made you want to look up upstart? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a haphazard or makeshift solution

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