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[noun, adjective uhp-stahrt; verb uhp-stahrt] /noun, adjective ˈʌpˌstɑrt; verb ʌpˈstɑrt/
a person who has risen suddenly from a humble position to wealth, power, or a position of consequence.
a presumptuous and objectionable person who has so risen; parvenu.
being, resembling, or characteristic of an upstart.
verb (used without object)
to spring into existence or into view.
to start up; spring up, as to one's feet.
verb (used with object)
to cause to start up.
Origin of upstart
1275-1325; Middle English (v.); see up-, start
Related forms
upstartness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for upstart
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "But in the eyes of the legitimists he is always nothing but an upstart," said Marianne, shrugging her shoulders.

  • Calcutta is an upstart town with no depth of sentiment in her face and in her manners.

    Creative Unity Rabindranath Tagore
  • As I am descended of the ancient family of the Bickerstaffs, I never call a man of merit an upstart.

    Thackerayana William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Besides, as I said to Francis, you had only to look at this upstart of a Jansoulet to see what he was worth.

    The Nabob Alphonse Daudet
  • It is not every one who's got such an easy conscience as this upstart fellow.

British Dictionary definitions for upstart


noun (ˈʌpˌstɑːt)
  1. a person, group, etc, that has risen suddenly to a position of power or wealth
  2. (as modifier): an upstart tyrant, an upstart family
  1. an arrogant or presumptuous person
  2. (as modifier): his upstart ambition
verb (ʌpˈstɑːt)
(intransitive) (archaic) to start up, as in surprise, etc
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for upstart

1550s, "one newly risen in importance or rank, a parvenu," also start-up, from up + start (v.) in the sense of "jump, spring, rise." Cf. the archaic verb upstart "to spring to one's feet," attested from c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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