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[noun, adjective uhp-stahrt; verb uhp-stahrt]
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  1. a person who has risen suddenly from a humble position to wealth, power, or a position of consequence.
  2. a presumptuous and objectionable person who has so risen; parvenu.
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  1. being, resembling, or characteristic of an upstart.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to spring into existence or into view.
  2. to start up; spring up, as to one's feet.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to start up.
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Origin of upstart

1275–1325; Middle English (v.); see up-, start
Related formsup·start·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for upstart

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • That Francesco was an upstart was no longer a matter of surmise with him.


    Raphael Sabatini

  • Here was this upstart new boy with an air of questioning his authority.

    Rodney, the Ranger

    John V. Lane

  • An unedified palate is the irrepressible cloven foot of the upstart.

  • Besides, as I said to Francis, you had only to look at this upstart of a Jansoulet to see what he was worth.

    The Nabob

    Alphonse Daudet

  • It was by their order that the upstart Duncombe had been put in ward.

British Dictionary definitions for upstart


noun (ˈʌpˌstɑːt)
    1. a person, group, etc, that has risen suddenly to a position of power or wealth
    2. (as modifier)an upstart tyrant; an upstart family
    1. an arrogant or presumptuous person
    2. (as modifier)his upstart ambition
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verb (ʌpˈstɑːt)
  1. (intr) archaic to start up, as in surprise, etc
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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 upstart


1550s, "one newly risen in importance or rank, a parvenu," also start-up, from up + start (v.) in the sense of "jump, spring, rise." Cf. the archaic verb upstart "to spring to one's feet," attested from c.1300.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper