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

intransitive verb

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


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up·​start ˈəp-ˌstärt How to pronounce upstart (audio)
: 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
: a start-up enterprise
upstart adjective

Examples of upstart in a Sentence

Noun 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
In the past year, major tech companies and upstart competitors have been in a race to commercialize new A.I. technologies, which offer transformative possibilities in many domains—including search. Sheelah Kolhatkar, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 But Next of Kin was preceded by a short film directed by another local upstart filmmaker, John Frizzell, and when his screening ended, the theater virtually emptied. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Sep. 2023 South nearly launched itself from upstart to kingpin last season after winning the Region IV title, unseating longtime champ Dimond. Chris Bieri, Anchorage Daily News, 8 Sep. 2023 While Google and Apple’s versions seem rather innocuous, there are other versions in the works from upstarts that are decidedly more focused on the wholesale replication of human relationships. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 17 Aug. 2023 Officials have been closely watching another upstart Omicron subvariant, BA.2.86, nicknamed Pirola. Rong-Gong Lin Ii, Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2023 Carlos Alcaraz, the 20-year-old Spanish upstart long touted as the sport’s next big thing, has emerged ahead of schedule to fulfill every lofty expectation. Matthew Futterman, New York Times, 27 Aug. 2023 However, the Italians took kindly to this brash new upstart of a timepiece, and by 1994, there was a shortage in that market. Oren Hartov, Robb Report, 5 July 2023 From heavy-hitters (Cardi B, Nas, A$AP Rocky, A Boogie, Jay-Z) to upstarts (Lola Brooke, Cash Cobain, Fivio Foreign), NYC has done a great job of re-entering a conversation that Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago had dominated for much of the previous decade. Spin Staff, Spin, 24 Aug. 2023 See More

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


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near upstart

Cite this Entry

“Upstart.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a person who has risen suddenly (as from a low position to wealth or power)
especially : one who makes a great show of success

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