[ verb, adjective uhp-set; noun uhp-set ]
See synonyms for: upsetupsettingupsetter on

verb (used with object),up·set, up·set·ting.
  1. to overturn: to upset a pitcher of milk.

  2. to disturb mentally or emotionally; perturb: The incident upset her.

  1. to disturb or derange completely; put out of order; throw into disorder: to upset a system; to upset a mechanism; to upset an apartment.

  2. to disturb physically: It upset his stomach.

  3. to defeat or overthrow an opponent that is considered more formidable, as in war, politics, or sports.

  4. Metalworking. to thicken the end of (a piece of heated metal) by hammering on the end against the length of the piece.

verb (used without object),up·set, up·set·ting.
  1. to become upset or overturned.

  1. an upsetting or instance of being upset; overturn; overthrow.

  2. the defeat of a person, team, etc., that is considered more formidable.

  1. a nervous, irritable state of mind.

  2. a disordered or confused arrangement.

  3. Metalworking.

    • a tool used for upsetting.

    • something that is upset, as a bar end.

  1. overturned: an upset milk pail.

  2. disordered; disorganized: The house is upset.

  1. distressed; disturbed: She had an upset stomach. He is emotionally upset.

  2. Archaic. raised up.

Origin of upset

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English: “raised up”; see up-, set

synonym study 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.

Other words for upset

Opposites for upset

Other words from upset

  • up·set·ta·ble, adjective
  • up·set·ter, noun
  • up·set·ting·ly, adverb
  • un·up·set, adjective
  • un·up·set·ta·ble, adjective

Words Nearby upset Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use upset in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for upset


verb(ʌpˈsɛt) -sets, -setting or -set (mainly tr)
  1. (also intr) to tip or be tipped over; overturn, capsize, or spill

  2. to disturb the normal state, course, or stability of: to upset the balance of nature

  1. to disturb mentally or emotionally

  2. to defeat or overthrow, usually unexpectedly

  3. to make physically ill: seafood always upsets my stomach

  4. to thicken or spread (the end of a bar, rivet, etc) by forging, hammering, or swagging

  1. an unexpected defeat or reversal, as in a contest or plans

  2. a disturbance or disorder of the emotions, body, etc

  1. a tool used to upset a bar or rivet; swage

  2. a forging or bar that has been upset in preparation for further processing

  1. overturned or capsized

  2. emotionally or physically disturbed or distressed

  1. disordered; confused

  2. defeated or overthrown

Origin of 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

Derived forms of upset

  • upsettable, adjective
  • upsetter, noun
  • upsetting, adjective
  • upsettingly, adverb

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