Definition of upstage in English:


adjective & adverb

  • 1At or towards the back of a theatre stage.

    [as adverb] ‘Hamlet turns to face upstage’
    [as adjective] ‘an upstage exit’
  • 2dated, informal [as adjective] Superior; aloof.

    ‘this upstage reserve is rather ridiculous’


  • 1[with object] Divert attention from (someone) towards oneself.

    ‘they were totally upstaged by their co-star in the film’
    • ‘Her power lay in her beauty and she used it as a weapon, dressing to please, to tease and even, on one mischievous occasion, to upstage her husband.’
    • ‘It is so heavily plot-driven, and you do feel you're upstaged by the props.’
    • ‘Though she gave a sharp, sassy performance, she was upstaged by the ample curves of Marilyn Monroe.’
    • ‘Give them a chance to make an exhibition of themselves and these two never miss the opportunity, as they did while attempting to upstage the president's address to Parliament.’
    • ‘Moreover, she danced to the tunes, even upstaging the professional dancers.’
    • ‘Do people try to upstage the bride and turn up in purple satin wedding dresses?’
    • ‘His young son, David Junior - who also featured in Bugsy Malone at the Forum - came close to upstaging his Dad on this occasion, playing not one, but two roles as one of the monkeys and one of the crows.’
    • ‘Glen is a team player, never in the business of upstaging his colleagues.’
    • ‘There have been times when we played together and I upstaged my father.’
    • ‘Bart attempts to upstage Lisa when the pair co-host a children's news program.’
    • ‘Rebecca later denied claims that the star had attempted to upstage her.’
    • ‘He is furious with them for upstaging him on this political issue.’
    • ‘Some people say the they upstaged us but we're not concerned about these things.’
    • ‘Phelps is threatening to even upstage Aussie sensation Ian Thorpe and their battle in the 200m freestyle promises to be one of the great highlights of the Games.’
    • ‘Caroline looked beautiful and stole the show but she was nearly upstaged by the hat worn by her future mother-in-law Kate Loughran.’
    • ‘But it does have a tremendous knack for upstaging its neighbour.’
    • ‘No spectacle could upstage the old soldiers, their recollections filled not with tales of their own part in the liberation, but with tributes to their comrades who fought and fell alongside them.’
    • ‘It's an unwritten rule of weddings that you don't upstage the bride on her big day.’
    • ‘Never again can a Prime Minister allow his number two to upstage him like that.’
    • ‘Personally, I thought he was probably an attention seeker attempting to upstage me.’
    surpass, outshine, do better than
    View synonyms
  • 2(of an actor) move towards the back of a stage to make (another actor) face away from the audience.

    ‘when he tried to upstage her she sauntered down to the front of the stage’
    • ‘The actors upstage each other, and sometimes abandon the stage altogether, as part of this approach.’
    • ‘Actors find little pleasure in being upstaged.’