Origin of upset

1300–50; Middle English: raised up; see up-, set
Related formsup·set·ta·ble, adjectiveup·set·ter, nounup·set·ting·ly, adverbun·up·set, adjectiveun·up·set·ta·ble, adjective

Synonyms for upset

1. Upset, capsize, overturn imply a change from an upright or other stable position to a prostrate one. Upset is a familiar word, applied to simple, everyday actions: to upset a table, a glass of water. Capsize is applied especially to the upsetting of a boat or other vessel: to capsize a canoe. Overturn usually suggests violence in upsetting something supposedly stable: The earthquake overturned houses. All three are used figuratively, also: to upset the stock market; to capsize a plan; to overturn a government. 2. unnerve, disconcert, fluster. 5. depose, displace. 10. perturbation, disturbance. 11. mess. 15. disconcerted, agitated, perturbed, annoyed.

Antonyms for upset

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

Examples from the Web for upset

Contemporary Examples of upset

Historical Examples of upset

  • Supposing—— It was cruel to excite and upset her just for that; it made the pain worse.

  • I've been getting along all right; now you come and upset everything.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The arrival of Winkleman would, he secretly admitted, upset him completely.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • "I wouldn't let a thing like that upset me if I was you," she said.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • "Well, why don't you say upset, you horrible old Orangeman," she retorted.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for upset


verb (ʌpˈsɛt) -sets, -setting or -set (mainly tr)

(also intr) to tip or be tipped over; overturn, capsize, or spill
to disturb the normal state, course, or stability ofto upset the balance of nature
to disturb mentally or emotionally
to defeat or overthrow, usually unexpectedly
to make physically illseafood always upsets my stomach
to thicken or spread (the end of a bar, rivet, etc) by forging, hammering, or swagging

noun (ˈʌpˌsɛt)

an unexpected defeat or reversal, as in a contest or plans
a disturbance or disorder of the emotions, body, etc
a tool used to upset a bar or rivet; swage
a forging or bar that has been upset in preparation for further processing

adjective (ʌpˈsɛt)

overturned or capsized
emotionally or physically disturbed or distressed
disordered; confused
defeated or overthrown
Derived Formsupsettable, adjectiveupsetter, nounupsetting, adjectiveupsettingly, adverb

Word Origin for upset

C14 (in the sense: to set up, erect; C19 in the sense: to overthrow); related to Middle High German ūfsetzen to put on, Middle Dutch opzetten
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 upset

mid-15c., "to set up, fix," from up + set (v.). Cf. Middle Dutch opsetten, German aufsetzen. Modern sense of "overturn, capsize" (1803) is that of obsolete overset. Meaning "to throw into mental discomposure" is from 1805. The noun sense of "overturning of a vehicle or boat" is recorded from 1804.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper