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See more synonyms for upstream on Thesaurus.com
  1. toward or in the higher part of a stream; against the current.
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  1. directed upstream; situated upstream: an upstream journey; an upstream hideout.
  2. Commerce. of or relating to the early stages in the operations of a business or industry, as exploration and production in the oil business (opposed to downstream).
  3. against or opposite to the direction of transcription, translation, or synthesis of a DNA, RNA, or protein molecule.
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Origin of upstream

First recorded in 1675–85; up- + stream
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for upstream

troublesome, crucial, tough, problematic, arduous, onerous, demanding, severe, strenuous, ambitious, burdensome, laborious, painful, challenging, gargantuan, Herculean, bothersome, exacting, formidable, galling

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British Dictionary definitions for upstream


adverb, adjective
  1. in or towards the higher part of a stream; against the current
  2. (in the oil industry) of or for any of the stages prior to oil production, such as exploration or researchCompare downstream (def. 2)
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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 upstream


1680s, from up- + stream. In common use from c.1890.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper