[yoo-puh s]
  1. the poisonous milky sap of a large tree, Antiaris toxicaria, of the mulberry family, native to tropical Asia, Africa, and the Philippine Islands, used for arrow poison.
  2. the tree itself.

Origin of upas

1775–85; < Javanese: poison, especially dart poison
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for upas

Historical Examples of upas

  • The darts used are about five inches long, and are dipped in upas juice.

    On the Equator

    Harry de Windt

  • The poison for these darts is obtained from the ipoh tree (upas).

    Children of Borneo

    Edwin Herbert Gomes

  • I knew I should die under the upas tree of his hateful presence!

    Her Mother's Secret

    Emma D. E. N. Southworth

  • This was the only specimen of the upas tree that I saw in Borneo.

  • The upas does not grow as a gregarious tree, and is nowhere found in numbers.

    The Castaways

    Captain Mayne Reid

British Dictionary definitions for upas


  1. a large moraceous tree of Java, Antiaria toxicaria, having whitish bark and poisonous milky sap
  2. the sap of this tree, used as an arrow poison
Also: antiar

Word Origin for upas

C19: from Malay: poison
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 upas

legendary poisonous tree of Java, 1783, from Malay upas "poison," in pohun upas "poison tree." The story appears to have originated in Dutch in 1770s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper