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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

Example Sentences

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
But instead of sticking around and working for Soros’ group, some of the station’s most prominent hosts jumped ship to upstart Americano Media, which was only available on SiriusXM and through its app until now. Brian Flood, Fox News, 30 Sep. 2022 Attracting fans to upstart spring football leagues has been an elusive dream for decades. Christian Richey, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 That noise first echoed last year, as the Cavs transformed from obscure lottery laughingstock to upstart playoff contender. Chris Fedor, cleveland, 26 Sep. 2022 Wisconsin fell out in the round of 32 to upstart Iowa State, while Illinois lost to Houston, meaning neither of the Big Ten’s co-champions made the second weekend. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, 21 Mar. 2022 Electric vehicle upstart Lucid likely will look at raising prices of future models due to inflationary and supply chain pressures, company CEO Peter Rawlinson told Reuters on Thursday. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 18 Mar. 2022 That tournament featured a win over his alma mater, upstart UW-Milwaukee, in the Sweet 16 en route to the national championship game, a 75-70 loss to North Carolina. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10 Mar. 2022 Beck also serves as an adviser to upstart short-form content platform Triller, which last month announced plans to go public in a reverse merger with SeaChange International. Todd Spangler, Variety, 18 Jan. 2022 The Aggies lost to upstart Arkansas to open SEC play, and then A&M fans had awful flashbacks to another era when former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach rolled into Kyle Field and upended the Aggies, this time in his second season with Mississippi State. Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News, 25 Dec. 2021
The melodic scorcher racked up 15 million views on YouTube and created a buzz for the Florida upstart. Tallie Spencer, Billboard, 13 July 2022 That’s a challenging space for an upstart like Wiliot, even one that has raised almost $270 million in five rounds. John Koetsier, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 The past few months have proved challenging for the upstart, founded in 2009 by Mr. Scaringe. Mike Colias, WSJ, 10 Mar. 2022 Someday, Rivas may well be in the same position Rendon is now — forced by an ambitious upstart to begin packing. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2022 Democrats have won the district every year since 2006 when a young upstart named Chris Murphy pulled off an upset against Johnson. Christopher Keating, Hartford Courant, 6 Nov. 2022 Eight years old, LuckyChap—now based in Los Angeles—has sprawled from a scrappy upstart into an independent juggernaut. WSJ, 1 Nov. 2022 The Energy Department’s most illustrious loan came in 2010 to an upstart called Tesla Motors for $465 million. Ken Silverstein, Forbes, 9 Oct. 2022 The shutdown marks an abrupt reversal of fortunes for Argo A.I., which was seen in recent years as a promising upstart in the autonomous vehicle field. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 27 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on upstart

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