toward or in the higher part of a stream; against the current.


directed upstream; situated upstream: an upstream journey; an upstream hideout.
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).
against or opposite to the direction of transcription, translation, or synthesis of a DNA, RNA, or protein molecule.

Origin of upstream

First recorded in 1675–85; up- + stream Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for upstream

Contemporary Examples of upstream

  • You wanted to be upstream with the artists, not downstream with the consumers.

  • The young men and women who went there drank like upstream salmon and studied in between switching kegs at kegger parties.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Joe Paterno Must Retire

    Buzz Bissinger

    September 8, 2011

  • Melissa Lion is the author of two novels, Swollen and Upstream, both published by Random House.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Stripper Who Lost a Breast

    Melissa Lion

    August 21, 2009

  • The Surge has stemmed the blood loss from the land between two rivers, but upstream from Mesopotamia, the patient still bleeds.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How America Blew It in Syria

    Christopher Brownfield

    October 28, 2008

Historical Examples of upstream

British Dictionary definitions for upstream


adverb, adjective

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper