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From Middle English upstarten, upsterten, equivalent to up- +‎ start.


upstart (plural upstarts)

  1. One who has suddenly gained wealth, power, or other prominence, but either has not received social acceptance or has become arrogant or presumptuous.
    • 1631, Francis [Bacon], “6. Century.”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] VVilliam Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], OCLC 1044372886:
      upstarts [] they call in reproach mushrooms
    • 1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], chapter XVIII, in Emma: [], volume II, London: [] [Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, OCLC 1708336, page 345:
      [S]he has no fair pretence of family or blood. She was nobody when he married her, barely the daughter of a gentleman; but ever since her being turned into a Churchill she has out-Churchill’d them all in high and mighty claims: but in herself, I assure you, she is an upstart.”
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 1, in Internal Combustion[1]:
      But electric vehicles and the batteries that made them run became ensnared in corporate scandals, fraud, and monopolistic corruption that shook the confidence of the nation and inspired automotive upstarts.
    • 2012 June 29, Kevin Mitchell, “Roger Federer back from Wimbledon 2012 brink to beat Julien Benneteau”, in The Guardian[2], archived from the original on 15 November 2016:
      Where the Czech upstart [Lukáš] Rosol, ranked 100 in the world, all but blew [Rafael] Nadal's head off with his blunderbuss in a fifth set of unrivalled intensity on Thursday night, [Julien] Benneteau, a more artful citizen, used a rapier to hurt his vaunted foe before falling just short of a kill. In the end, it was he who staggered from the scene of the fight.
  2. The meadow saffron[1].




upstart (comparative more upstart, superlative most upstart)

  1. Acting like a parvenu.
  2. self-important and presumptuous.



upstart (third-person singular simple present upstarts, present participle upstarting, simple past and past participle upstarted)

  1. to rise suddenly, to spring


  1. ^ 1863-1879, Richard Chandler Alexander Prior, On the Popular Names of British Plants