Definition of on to in English:

on to


  • 1Moving to a location on the surface of.

    ‘they went up on to the ridge’
    • ‘Finally, the mixture is poured onto a surface and allowed to cool and set before being cut into small pieces.’
    • ‘As the crew jogged down the ramp and onto the surface, the first thing that struck them was the mansion.’
    • ‘Try as he did, the Dane could not manage to get the ball far enough onto the putting surface to stop it rolling back to his feet.’
    • ‘He walks out onto the field now confident in what we are going to do and how he is going to do it.’
    • ‘Using a fine nozzle, the design is extruded onto the surface in a manner a bit like icing a cake.’
    • ‘How many times a day do you step up onto a curb, trot up a flight of stairs or hike up a hill?’
    • ‘Hide the bottom edge of a mirror with gravel to help prevent mud splashing onto the surface.’
    • ‘At the top of a hill the dirt path is blocked by oil drums and it empties onto blacktop.’
    • ‘Moving carefully about he climbed up onto the bed and softly nudged his nose under my arm.’
    • ‘Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push it into a flat round or oval about 2.5cm thick.’
    • ‘The fork is held in the left hand and used to push food onto a spoon held in the right hand.’
    • ‘Most of my hair was up but some loose ends fell into my face and down onto my shoulders.’
    • ‘Moving up onto the main banks we found ourselves amongst the main fleet of boats.’
    • ‘I caught him in my trap and the towel and the fly fell onto the surface of the table.’
    • ‘Jared jumped onto the bed next to him and gave him a hug as soon as he stepped into the room.’
    • ‘Shadows from a point source appear parallel when projected onto a flat surface.’
    • ‘Stepping back from the car into the middle of the road was like stepping onto the surface of the moon.’
    • ‘It dropped only a yard ahead of him onto the putting surface and he dropped another shot.’
    • ‘The female releases her eggs onto the surface of the gravel, where they are fertilised by the males.’
    • ‘The mercury was applied by vigorously brushing it onto the surface of the metal.’
  • 2Moving aboard (a public service vehicle) with the intention of travelling in it.

    ‘we got on to the train’
    • ‘Well, I admire anyone who managed to make it onto public transport or back into the centre.’
    • ‘Then they all swooshed onto the sub train and the train swooshed us to another terminal.’
    • ‘We stumble drunk onto a train, and I snore and dribble on your more-than-ample chest.’
    • ‘He hops onto the train and finds a carriage full of kids who, like him, are all in their pyjamas and dressing gowns.’
    • ‘It is thought plain clothes officers chased the man from the street onto a Northern Line train.’
    • ‘Moments later he was followed into the station and onto a train where he was shot seven times.’
    • ‘Neil would've gotten her changing onto a Thameslink train and ending up at Farringdon.’
    • ‘We were turfed off at Shenfield and crammed onto another train on its way in from London.’
    • ‘They scrambled onto the train, and Carrie felt very big and very small at the same time.’
    • ‘I left my desk on the spot of six and made it onto an earlier train than I'd expected.’
    • ‘The usual morning squash onto the train and I'm two rows in from the doors as they shut.’
    • ‘And then the rich will continue to drive while the poor are herded onto public transport.’


See onto


  • be on to someone

    • informal Be close to discovering the truth about an illegal or undesirable activity that someone is engaging in.

      • ‘When Jackson realized the family was onto him, he tried to send them to South America.’
      • ‘She'd been contemplating whether or not to let Brandon know she was onto him.’
      • ‘He must have sensed that she was onto him, because every time she would try and approach him, when they were camped for the night, he would just look at her and get up and walk away.’
      • ‘He figured Uncle Byron must have known that Devlin was onto him.’
      • ‘They thought they were onto somebody who was robbing the house.’
      • ‘She must have realized he was onto her, for then she relaxed herself and allowed her soft pink lips to straighten out, forming a grim line on her face.’
      • ‘The cops were onto us and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.’
      • ‘I didn't want her to even guess that I was onto her.’
      • ‘More importantly, how did Renee know she was onto her?’
      • ‘What he most feared, however, was that Elsa was onto him.’
  • be on to something

    • informal Have an idea or information that is likely to lead to an important discovery.

      • ‘In fact, professional skydivers have been onto the idea since the early 1990s and probably before.’
      • ‘Think about that Mike. Anne Dillard is onto something there.’
      • ‘As he looked over the information he started to wonder if Steve could have been onto something.’
      • ‘And I think Haus is onto something with the idea of ‘passing’ - because that's something I think this guy could do really well.’
      • ‘In many ways I think Kevin is onto something very important here.’
      • ‘Perhaps my mother was onto something when she spent nine months thinking that I was going to be a boy named Michael.’
      • ‘My mind was already on the topic of discoveries, and I was pretty sure I was onto something important.’
      • ‘Indeed, Edwards seems to be onto this idea already.’
      • ‘Mount Vernon's archaeologists knew that they were onto something important.’
      • ‘Maybe those girls were onto something - outsourcing!’


on to

/ˈɒn tuː/