Origin of upright

before 900; Middle English, Old English upriht (cognate with German aufrecht). See up, right
Related formsup·right·ly, adverbup·right·ness, nounnon·up·right, adjective, nounnon·up·right·ly, adverbnon·up·right·ness, noun

Synonyms for upright

1. plumb. Upright, erect, vertical, perpendicular imply that something is in the posture of being straight upward, not leaning. That which is upright is in a position corresponding to that of a person standing up: a decaying tree no longer standing upright; an upright piano. Erect emphasizes the straightness of position or posture: proud and erect; A flagpole stands erect. Vertical suggests upward direction, especially along the shortest line from the earth to a level above it: the vertical edge of a door; ornamented by vertical lines. Perpendicular, a term frequently interchangeable with vertical, is used especially in mathematics: the perpendicular side of a right triangle; to erect a perpendicular line from the base of a figure. 3. honorable. 6. pole, prop, pier, pile, column.

Antonyms for upright

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for upright

Contemporary Examples of upright

Historical Examples of upright

  • In all this he has been upright, disinterested and conscientious in word and deed.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • This fisherman, I am glad to tell you, was an exceedingly humane and upright man.

    The Gorgon's Head

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • He seemed to be cold and upright in his mind as in his body.

  • What contempt must she not feel for him, she who was so upright, so high-minded?

  • And all men tell me what an upright man he is, so that I am really friendly with him.

    Albert Durer

    T. Sturge Moore

British Dictionary definitions for upright



vertical or erect
honest, honourable, or just




a vertical support, such as a stake or post
short for upright piano
the state of being vertical


(tr) to make upright
Derived Formsuprightly, adverbuprightness, noun
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 upright

Old English upriht, from up "up" + riht "right." Similar compounds are found in other Germanic languages (cf. Old Frisian upriucht, Middle Dutch oprecht, Old High German ufreht, German aufrecht, Old Norse uprettr). Figurative sense of "good, honest" is first attested 1520s. The noun in the sense of "something standing erect" is from 1742.

THREE-PENNY UPRIGHT. A retailer of love, who, for the sum mentioned, dispenses her favours standing against a wall. ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1811]

The bent-over rear-entry posture they are talking about, of course, is kubda, the three-obol position at the bottom-end of a prostitute's price-range. [James N. Davidson, "Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens," 1997]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with upright


see bolt upright.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.