upon

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English upon, uppon, uppen, from Old English upon, uppon, uppan (on, upon, up to, against, after, in addition to), equivalent to up (adverb) +‎ on (preposition). Cognate with Icelandic up á, upp á (up on, upon), Swedish (up on, upon).

Pronunciation[edit]

Preposition[edit]

upon

  1. Being above and in contact with another.
    Place the book upon the table.
    • 1899, Hughes Mearns, Antigonish:
      Yesterday, upon the stair / I met a man who wasn’t there / He wasn’t there again today / I wish, I wish he’d go away …
  2. Being directly supported by another.
    The crew set sail upon the sea.
    She balanced upon one foot.
  3. At a prescribed point in time.
    The contract was rendered void upon his death.
  4. On.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, The Celebrity:
      Although the Celebrity was almost impervious to sarcasm, he was now beginning to exhibit visible signs of uneasiness, the consciousness dawning upon him that his eccentricity was not receiving the ovation it merited.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, chapter 1, Nobody:
      Little disappointed, then, she turned attention to "Chat of the Social World," gossip which exercised potent fascination upon the girl's intelligence.

Usage notes[edit]

A somewhat elevated word; the simpler, more general term on is generally interchangeable, and more common in casual American speech. In poetic or legal contexts, upon is common.

Synonyms[edit]

  • (all senses): on
  • (time): at

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Adverb[edit]

upon (not comparable)

  1. Being the target of an action.
    He was set upon by the agitated dogs
  2. Incidental to a specified point in time or order of action; usually combined with here-, there- or where-.
    The clock struck noon, whereupon the students proceeded to lunch.

Derived terms[edit]

Statistics[edit]