Nearby words

  1. about to,
  2. about turn,
  3. about-face,
  4. about-ship,
  5. about-turn,
  6. above all,
  7. above and beyond,
  8. above board,
  9. above stairs,
  10. above suspicion


    above all, most important of all; principally: charity above all.

Origin of above

before 900; Middle English above(n) (Cf. aboon), Old English abufan, onbufan (a-1, on + bufan above (cognate with Dutch boven), equivalent to b(e) by1 + ufan, cognate with Old Frisian uva, Old Saxon oban(a), Old High German obana, German oben, Old Norse ofan above; akin to over); see up; cf. about for formation

Usage note

Above as an adjective ( the above data ) or as a noun ( study the above ) referring to what has been mentioned earlier in a piece of writing has long been standard. A few critics object to these uses in general writing, believing that they are more appropriate in business or technical contexts; they occur, however, in all kinds of edited writing. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for above

British Dictionary definitions for above



on top of or higher than; overthe sky above the earth
greater than in quantity or degreeabove average in weight
superior to or prior toto place honour above wealth
too honourable or high-minded forabove petty gossiping
too respected for; beyondabove suspicion; above reproach
too difficult to be understood bythe talk was above me
louder or higher than (other noise)I heard her call above the radio
in preference toI love you above all others
north ofwhich town lies just above London?
upstream from
above all most of all; especially
above and beyond in addition to
above oneself presumptuous or conceited


in or to a higher placethe sky above
  1. in a previous place (in something written)
  2. (in combination)the above-mentioned clause
higher in rank or position
in or concerned with heavenseek the things that are above


the above something that is above or previously mentioned


mentioned or appearing in a previous place (in something written)

Word Origin for above

Old English abufan, from a- on + bufan above

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

Word Origin and History for above



Old English abufan, earlier onbufan, from on (see on) + bufan "over," compound of be "by" (see by) + ufan "over/high," from Proto-Germanic *ufan-, *uban- (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German oban, German oben), from PIE root *upo (see up (adv.)). Meaning "in addition" first corded 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with above


In addition to the idioms beginning with above

  • above all
  • above and beyond
  • above suspicion
  • above the law

also see:

  • all (none) of the above
  • cut above
  • head and shoulders above
  • over and above
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.