1
a
used as a function word to indicate position in contact with and supported by the top surface of
the book is lying on the table
b
used as a function word to indicate position in or in contact with an outer surface
the fly landed on the ceilingI have a cut on my fingerpaint on the wall
c
used as a function word to indicate position in close proximity with
a village on the seastay on your opponent
d
used as a function word to indicate the location of something
on the lefton the south side of the houseon the farm
2
a
used as a function word to indicate a source of attachment or support
on a stringstand on one foothang it on a nail
b
used as a function word to indicate a source of dependence
you can rely on mefeeds on insectslives on a pension
c
used as a function word to indicate means of conveyance
on the bus
d
used as a function word to indicate presence in the possession of
had a knife on him
3
used as a function word to indicate a time frame during which something takes place
a parade on Sunday
or an instant, action, or occurrence when something begins or is done
on cueon arriving home, I found your letternews on the hourcash on delivery
4
archaic : of
5
a
used as a function word to indicate manner of doing something
often used with the
on the slykeep everything on the up-and-up
b
used as a function word to indicate means or agency
cut myself on a knifetalk on the telephone
c
used as a function word to indicate a medium of expression
on stagebest show on television
6
a(1)
used as a function word to indicate active involvement in a condition or status
on the increaseon the lookout
(2)
: regularly using or showing the effects of using
on drugs
b
used as a function word to indicate involvement or participation
on touron the teamon duty
c
used as a function word to indicate inclusion
put it on the agenda
d
used as a function word to indicate position or status in proper relationship with a standard or objective
on schedule
7
a
used as a function word to indicate reason, ground, or basis (as for an action, opinion, or computation)
I have it on good authorityon one conditionthe interest will be 10 cents on the dollar
b
used as a function word to indicate the cause or source
profited on the sale of stock
c
used as a function word to indicate the focus of obligation or responsibility
drinks are on the houseput the blame on me
8
a
used as a function word to indicate the object of collision, opposition, or hostile action
bumped my head on a limban attack on religionpulled a gun on me
b
used as a function word to indicate the object with respect to some disadvantage, handicap, or detriment
has three inches in height on mea 3-game lead on the second-place teamthe joke's on me
9
a
used as a function word to indicate destination or the focus of some action, movement, or directed effort
crept up on himfeast your eyes on thisworking on my skiingmade a payment on the loan
b
used as a function word to indicate the focus of feelings, determination, or will
have pity on mekeen on sportsa curse on you
c
used as a function word to indicate the object with respect to some misfortune or disadvantageous event
the crops died on them
d
used as a function word to indicate the subject of study, discussion, or consideration
a book on insectsreflect on that a momentagree on price
e
: with respect to
go light on the salt
short on cash
10
used as a function word to indicate reduplication or succession in a series
loss on losstrouble on trouble

on

2 of 7

adverb

1
a
: in or into a position of contact with an upper surface especially so as to be positioned for use or operation
put the plates on
b
: in or into a position of being attached to or covering a surface
especially : in or into the condition of being worn
put his new shoes on
2
a
: forward or at a more advanced point in space or time
went on home
later on
b
: in continuance or succession
rambled on
and so on
3
: into operation or a position permitting operation
switched the light on

on

3 of 7

adjective

1
: engaged in an activity or function (such as a dramatic role)
2
a(1)
: being in operation
The radio is on.
(2)
: placed so as to permit operation
The switch is on.
b
: taking place or being broadcast
The game is on.
3
: aware of something
usually used with to
My boss was on to me.
4
: intended, planned
has nothing on for tonight
5
British : talking or harping incessantly
used with about
6
chiefly British : regarded as possible or feasible
usually used in negative constructions
7
a
: engaged in or as if in a performance
The comedian was always on.
b
: being at a high level of performance

ON

4 of 7

abbreviation

variants or Ont
Ontario

-on

5 of 7

noun suffix (1)

: chemical compound not a ketone or other oxo compound
parathion

-on

6 of 7

noun suffix (2)

1
: subatomic particle
nucleon
2
a
: unit : quantum
photon
magneton
b
: basic hereditary component
cistron
operon

-on

7 of 7

noun suffix (3)

: noble gas
radon

Example Sentences

Preposition There is a lot of frosting on the cake. books on sports heroes are my favorite reading matter Adverb We're far on with our project. I'll come by to help you later on. Adjective The lid is on tight. The band will be on in 10 minutes. He is on tomorrow from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Preposition
Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY's NOW team. Camille Fine, USA TODAY, 19 Nov. 2022 Facing a potential $6 million decision with infielder Kyle Farmer, who is eligible for arbitration this offseason, the Cincinnati Reds traded him to the Minnesota Twins for minor league pitcher Casey Legumina on Friday. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, 19 Nov. 2022 Also on Friday, the Dodgers non-tendered infielder Edwin Ríos and outfielder Luke Williams. Beth Harris, ajc, 19 Nov. 2022 Later on Friday, Mr. Musk tweeted a poll asking people to vote whether Mr. Trump’s account should be reinstated. Meghan Bobrowsky, WSJ, 19 Nov. 2022 Indiana basketball visits Xavier on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 19 Nov. 2022 The news follows the company’s recall on Friday of nearly 30,000 Model X cars in the United States over an issue that may cause the front passenger air bag to deploy incorrectly, which sent its shares down almost 3% to a near two-year low. Reuters, NBC News, 19 Nov. 2022 His arrest was one of 10 DWI arrests within the last two weeks that state police highlighted in a news release on Friday. Hartford Courant, 19 Nov. 2022 The Knights’ state semifinal opponent is Massillon Washington, which won the Region 7 crown, 24-6, over Uniontown Lake on Friday. cleveland, 19 Nov. 2022
Adverb
Same thing with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Joe Burrow and the Bengals and so on. cleveland, 20 Nov. 2022 The highest ranking teams went in the first pot and so on. Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY, 19 Nov. 2022 Previously, these check marks were free and indicated an account was authentic—that’s the real New York Times, the real President Joe Biden, the real Slim Jim, and so on. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, 18 Nov. 2022 After decades working as a computer network administrator in Ottawa, his life now echoes the nomadic ways of his father, his grandfather, his great grandfather and so on, going back some 15 generations. Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2022 The band would toss out dedications first to one family, then to the other, and so on, back and forth. Boris Dralyuk, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2022 Nor, they were relieved to discover, did there seem to be any inside jokes or watercooler gossip to catch up on. WIRED, 15 Nov. 2022 The case has garnered national attention and inspired various crime television episodes, documentaries and so on. Audrey Conklin, Fox News, 14 Nov. 2022 So there’s 14 principles, like privacy, human dignity, transparency, and so on. Time, 13 Nov. 2022
Adjective
Lineman Sam Coufal has a preferred walk-on offer from Miami. Jr Radcliffe, Journal Sentinel, 18 Nov. 2022 In addition to his on-field success, the baseball pro recently became a new father after welcoming his first child with his wife and number one supporter, Reagan Bregman. Emily Krauser, Peoplemag, 21 Oct. 2022 However, his on-field intensity was matched by off-field partying. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2022 He was showered with Gatorade in his on-field postgame interview. The Enquirer, 17 Aug. 2022 Karinchak will have to wait a little longer to make his on-field debut, however. Ashley Bastock, cleveland, 4 July 2022 In terms of his on-field growth, the Texas product admitted to being enamored with Oregon’s approach, which is highlighted by a head coach with an offensive line background. oregonlive, 4 July 2021 Things reached a tipping point when Ted Giannoulas, the creator of the sports mascot known as the San Diego Chicken, began beating up a Barney look-a-like as part of his on-field act. Patrick Gomez, EW.com, 12 Oct. 2022 In late June, Algrim verbally committed to a preferred walk-on offer from Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck, a Kaneland graduate. Rick Armstrong, Chicago Tribune, 17 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Preposition, Adverb, and Adjective

Middle English an, on, preposition & adverb, from Old English; akin to Old High German ana on, Greek ana up, on

Noun suffix (1)

International Scientific Vocabulary, alteration of -one

Noun suffix (2)

from -on (in ion)

Noun suffix (3)

New Latin, from -on (in argon)

First Known Use

Preposition

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

circa 1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of on was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near on

Cite this Entry

“On.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/on. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

on 1 of 3

preposition

(ˈ)ȯn How to pronounce on (audio)
(ˈ)än
1
a
: in contact with and supported by
the book on the table
b
: in a position in contact with or near
a fly on the wall
a town on the river
c
used to indicate the location of something
on the other side of the house
on the right
2
a
used to indicate means of being attached or supported
on a stringstood on one foothang your coat on the pegyou can rely on melives on insects
b
used to indicate means of being carried
rode on a horsewent on the bushave only five dollars on me
3
used to indicate a time or an instance when something takes place
on arriving home, I found your letterarrived on Mondaynews on the hour
4
a
used to indicate the way something is done
told her on the sly
b
used to indicate what something is done with or done by
cut on broken glasstalk on the phonetype on a keyboarddisplayed on a TV screen
5
a
: involved with or participating in : busy with
on a committee
on tour
b
: in a state or process of
on fire
on the increase
c
: in keeping with a goal or objective
on schedule
6
a
used to indicate a reason or basis
on one conditioninterest of 10 cents on the dollar
b
used to indicate who or what is responsible
this treat is on meblamed it on the weather
7
used to indicate someone or something an action or feeling is directed toward
was creeping up on ushave pity on methe joke's on you
8
a
: concerning, about
a book on cats
agree on price
b
: with respect to
go light on the salt
short on cash
9
: following in series
loss on loss

on

2 of 3

adverb

ˈȯn,
ˈän
1
: in or into contact with a surface
put the kettle on
has new shoes on
2
: forward in space, time, or action
went on home
on came the storm
getting on in years
3
: from one to another
pass the word on
and so on
4
: into operation or a position allowing operation
turn the light on

on

3 of 3

adjective

ˈȯn,
ˈän
1
: doing an activity (as a role in a play)
you're on next
2
a
: being in operation
the radio is on
b
: set so as to permit operation
the switch is on
c
: taking place or being broadcast
the game is on
3
: having been planned
has nothing on for tonight

Medical Definition

: regularly using or showing the effects of using
is on an ACE inhibitor to control hypertension
was on drugs for two years before entering rehab

More from Merriam-Webster on on

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