up·​start | \ˌəp-ˈstärt \
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 \

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 \ 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

In freer places, upstarts are challenging oligopoly as much as officialdom. The Economist, "Latin America’s new media are growing up," 14 July 2018 Thinking back that many years is an instructive exercise in how quickly seemingly unassailable franchises can stumble while upstarts ascend. Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "Winning the Fox Bidding War Is Just the Beginning," 10 July 2018 Perhaps, like Berlusconi, today’s upstarts will fail to evolve and merely grow into tomorrow’s Establishment. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "Italy’s Election Shows European Populism Isn’t Dead Yet," 7 Mar. 2018 Disney and Comcast are looking to use the Fox assets to bolster their content, expand overseas, and fend off the threat from Netflix Inc. and other streaming upstarts. David Mclaughlin,, "Disney wins US approval for Fox deal in blow to Comcast," 27 June 2018 Disney and Comcast are looking to use the Fox assets to bolster their content, expand overseas and fend off the threat from Netflix Inc. and other streaming upstarts. Fortune, "Disney Wins Antitrust Approval for $71 Billion Fox Purchase," 27 June 2018 In that tournament, one side of the draw became stacked with most of the favorites, while the other half featured a bunch of enterprising upstarts – plus Portugal, which had floundered its way through the group with three ties. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Cristiano Ronaldo's missed penalty costs Portugal – and could haunt it forever," 25 June 2018 With tradition-minded outfit LANCO and genre-melding upstart Kane Brown., "The Ticket: What’s happening in the local arts world," 1 June 2018 Sentz, who resisted selling the lounge as part of the Constellation deal in August, has sold it to another upstart, Robot Brewing Company. Carlos Frías, miamiherald, "Funky Buddha sold to beer giant Corona. Now its 'birthplace' is sold to another brewer," 31 May 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near upstart







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

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

: a newly successful person, business, etc.


up·​start | \ˈəp-ˌstärt \

Kids Definition of upstart

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

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Comments on upstart

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noxious or harmful

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