up·​stream | \ ˈəp-ˈstrēm How to pronounce upstream (audio) \

Definition of upstream

1 : in the direction opposite to the flow of a stream
2 : in or to a position within the production stream closer to manufacturing processes make most of its money upstream, selling cheap crude … to refineries— John Quirt
3 biochemistry : toward the beginning of a series of cellular processes : preceding a linked molecular event occurring in a sequence Many signaling pathways possess intrinsic negative feedback by which a downstream event in a pathway turns off an upstream event.— Harvey Lodish et al.

Examples of upstream in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The shuttle boat heads upstream from Lees Ferry, a brisk 30-minute ride in chilled morning air. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "Now you can kayak Arizona's famous Horseshoe Bend. Here's how.," 5 Sep. 2019 The spill occurred last week at the east branch of the Little Calumet River, about three miles upstream from Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes National Park confirmed in a statement. Leah Asmelash And Hollie Silverman, CNN, "A chemical spill near Lake Michigan leaves beaches closed and hundreds of fish dead," 18 Aug. 2019 The other option is trapping the fish and hauling them upstream via barges, trucks or sometimes helicopters, an expensive and resource intensive solution that often leaves fish disoriented. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Here’s How That Internet-Famous ‘Fish Tube’ Works," 15 Aug. 2019 The grandest coulee One way to explore coulee country is to head upstream from the Gorge Amphitheatre along the route of the Ice Age floods. John Nelson, Los Angeles Times, "The Ice Age gives birth to a wine and adventure age in Washington state," 20 July 2019 The races end 7½ miles upstream at the Washington Street Bridge in Hanover. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "Remembering Woodstock, 50 years on, at The Cabot," 7 July 2019 Rivers and streams that usually drain into the ocean can get clogged farther upstream, forcing water levels to rise. Nicole Chavez, CNN, "Rising water poses the deadliest threat in major storms -- and New Orleans is already flooded," 11 July 2019 One arm is raised as if in a wave to Sevnica, her hometown, about 5 miles upstream. Palko Karasz, BostonGlobe.com, "Melania Trump gets a statue near her hometown, carved by chain saw," 6 July 2019 The Minnesota Buffalo-Red River board has jurisdiction over impacts from the project within its district, which includes Clay and Wilkin counties, areas upstream from the dam that will be affected by pooling water. Forum News Service, Twin Cities, "Fargo-Moorhead flood-control project hits another obstacle as local permit is denied," 25 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'upstream.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of upstream

1681, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about upstream

Dictionary Entries near upstream

up sticks







Statistics for upstream

Last Updated

30 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for upstream

The first known use of upstream was in 1681

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for upstream



English Language Learners Definition of upstream

: in the direction opposite to the flow in a stream, river, etc. : toward the source of a stream, river, etc.


up·​stream | \ ˈəp-ˈstrēm How to pronounce upstream (audio) \

Kids Definition of upstream

: at or toward the beginning of a stream She rowed upstream.
up·​stream | \ ˈəp-ˈstrēm How to pronounce upstream (audio) \

Medical Definition of upstream

1 : in a direction along a molecule of DNA or RNA opposite to that in which transcription and translation take place and toward the end having a phosphate group attached to the position labeled 5′ in the terminal nucleotide … stretches of DNA upstream of genes—are known as promoters.— Matt Ridley, Time, 2 June 2003 — compare downstream sense 1
2 : toward the beginning of series of cellular processes : preceding a linked molecular event occurring in a sequence It's equally important to focus on additional mechanisms that are upstream of amyloid formation and mechanisms downstream that are involved in the actual degenerative processes within neurons.— Marc Tessier-Lavigne, quoted in Science, 17 Sept. 2010

More from Merriam-Webster on upstream

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with upstream

Spanish Central: Translation of upstream

Nglish: Translation of upstream for Spanish Speakers

Comments on upstream

What made you want to look up upstream? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a topic to which one constantly reverts

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!