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

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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: 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 Portland tech upstart Jama Software replaced CEO Scott Roth on Friday, the latest in a series of changes at the company since its sale to a private equity firm two years ago. oregonlive, "Jama Software splits with CEO Scott Roth," 31 Jan. 2020 The Friday announcement illustrates the other wing of her influence operation: boosting upstart progressive newcomers, while aiding incumbents in swing districts who share her policy vision. Emilie Munson,, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez jumps into California politics to help House Democrats," 23 Feb. 2020 The latest global poaching of U.S. talent potentially comes from an upstart called the Premier Golf League, which promises a shorter tour with bigger prizes for the top 50 players in the world. Greg Moore, azcentral, "Moore: International threat to U.S. sports confronts Phoenix Open, PGA Tour," 31 Jan. 2020 That’s tough enough for the European dominators, let alone an upstart with only three sedans. Sue Callaway, Los Angeles Times, "2020 Genesis G90 review: A worthy luxury sedan at a reasonable price," 23 Jan. 2020 These smaller upstarts don't individually pose a threat to traditional sports drinks, Stanford said. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Powerade is getting a makeover for the first time in more than a decade," 16 Jan. 2020 The upstart Orioles finished with a fielding percentage of .986, then the best ever in the majors. Mike Klingaman,, "‘Why Not?’ Remembering the 1989 Orioles’ remarkable turnaround 30 years later," 26 Sep. 2019 The event, which exhibits architectural models, drawings and other media, began in 2015 — an upstart to the older and more prestigious Venice Architecture Biennale. Blair Kamin,, "Column: Can you trust journalists on a junket? Chicago’s architecture biennial pays travel expenses of some who cover it.," 16 Sep. 2019 Those projects were vestiges of excitement around mobility—and some fear of upstarts like Uber, which once threatened to rewrite the automotive game but now struggle with questions of profitability. Aarian Marshall, Wired, "Investors Hit the Brakes on Automotive Startups," 9 Feb. 2020

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

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Cite this Entry

“Upstart.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

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How to pronounce upstart (audio)

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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with upstart

Spanish Central: Translation of upstart

Nglish: Translation of upstart for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of upstart for Arabic Speakers

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