Origin of upstage

First recorded in 1905–10; up- + stage
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for upstage


Examples from the Web for upstage

Contemporary Examples of upstage

Historical Examples of upstage

  • A similar door, opening into the bedroom of the shack, upstage right.

  • Upstage, burned a driftwood fire in a low hearth of rough bricks; Judge Tiffany sat there, in a spindle-backed chair, reading.

  • Few are native-born New Yorkers, and scarcely any of them go around with their noses in the air in an "upstage Eastern manner."

    If You Don't Write Fiction

    Charles Phelps Cushing

  • Single rose-coloured corduroy curtain for archway up R. hung on upstage side of arch.

    Mr. Pim Passes By

    Alan Alexander Milne

British Dictionary definitions for upstage



on, at, or to the rear of the stage


of or relating to the back half of the stage
informal haughty; supercilious; aloof

verb (tr)

to move upstage of (another actor), thus forcing him to turn away from the audience
informal to draw attention to oneself from (someone else); steal the show from (someone)
informal to treat haughtily


the back half of the stage
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 upstage

1918 (adj.), 1921 (v.); the notion is of drawing attention to oneself (and away from a fellow actor) by moving upstage -- to the rear of the stage -- so that the other actor must face away from the audience. The noun upstage "back of the stage" is recorded from 1870.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper