noun Music.

an unaccented beat, especially immediately preceding a downbeat.
the upward stroke with which a conductor indicates such a beat.


optimistic; happy; cheerful: television dramas with predictably upbeat endings.

Origin of upbeat

1865–70; 1950–55 for def 3; up- + beat
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of upbeat

British Dictionary definitions for upbeat



  1. a usually unaccented beat, esp the last in a bar
  2. the upward gesture of a conductor's baton indicating thisCompare downbeat
an upward trend (in prosperity, etc)


informal marked by cheerfulness or optimism
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 upbeat

"with a positive mood," 1947, apparently from the musical noun upbeat (1869), referring to the beat of a bar at which the conductor's baton is in a raised position; the "optimistic" sense apparently for no other reason than that it sounds like a happy word (the musical upbeat is no more inherently "positive" than any other beat). Expression on the upbeat "improving, getting better" is recorded from 1934.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper