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 Hero says: The Canes defeated NC State last week in an offensive shutout while the Hookies lost a heartbreaker to upstart Liberty. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Picking games a masquerade during pandemic," 12 Nov. 2020 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 Boneyard Beer, founded in 2010, is more skull and crossbones, a brash upstart perhaps best known for its RPM IPA with a lineup that also includes Skunkape, Hop a Wheelie and Notorious IPA. Michael Kohn, oregonlive, "Deschutes Brewery acquires Bend’s Boneyard Beer," 4 Mar. 2021 Even so, many upstart brands fully embody a traddy look. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Hoodies, Jordans, Macklemore: Golf Enters Its Streetwear Moment," 9 Mar. 2021 Boneyard Beer, one of Bend’s scrappy upstart beer makers, has been acquired by crosstown rival Deschutes Brewery. Michael Kohn, oregonlive, "Deschutes Brewery acquires Bend’s Boneyard Beer," 4 Mar. 2021 Ohio State, the scarlet-and-gray power that upset mighty Clemson on Friday night and, despite the brash politicking that helped clear its path to the College Football Playoff, has sometimes wound up acting like some sort of 2020 upstart. New York Times, "A Season of Chaos Will End With a Powerhouse Matchup College Football Wanted," 2 Jan. 2021 An aristocrat’s wife has an affair with an upstart in 1930s England. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘Lust for Life’; ‘Platoon’ and more," 5 Mar. 2021 Auth0, an upstart created in 2013, has been recently gaining traction, especially because of its approach in catering to software developers who embed its tools directly in products. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Okta is buying security startup Auth0 for $6.5 billion," 3 Mar. 2021 For the past six weeks, two upstart cable news channels — Newsmax and One America News — have tried to outflank Fox News from the right by embracing President Trump’s strategy of election denialism. Washington Post, "‘This is the reality’: Newsmax and One America grapple uneasily with Biden’s electoral college victory," 14 Dec. 2020 Salesforce ownership will mark a new era for Slack, a tech upstart with the lofty goal of trying to replace the need for business emails. Nico Grant,, "Salesforce to Buy Software Maker Slack for $27.7 Billion," 1 Dec. 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 10 Apr. 2021.

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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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