Definition of one up in English:

one up


  • Having a psychological advantage over someone.

    ‘you're always trying to be one up on whoever you're with’
    • ‘On the basis that more people drink Guinness than Bass, then he's already one up on Bertie.’
    • ‘Can anyone believe if it were said that the latter has come one up against the former.’
    • ‘Incidentally, if you live in Stirling you get into the castle free, which is one up on the citizens of Edinburgh.’
    • ‘Conceding two goals after being one up with less than five minutes to go is not easy to take.’
    • ‘The ladies on the stage were seen by some as one up from prostitutes - that was the view then.’
    • ‘The first half produced very little to get excited about and in truth Wrexham should have been at least one up.’
    • ‘Sweetshops around the city have pulled out all stops in trying to go one up on their rivals.’
    • ‘He has one up on Jack when it comes to clear insight and common sense.’
    • ‘Louise covered my tracks and I got a hug from Sondheim, which in my book is one up on a French kiss from Mozart.’
    • ‘But on the back of a motorbike you are one up from the scum on the street.’


[WITH OBJECT]informal
  • Do better than (someone)

    ‘he deftly one-upped the interrogator’
    • ‘Well, it is not news that the news networks are always trying to one-up each other, but tonight, they're taking their battle to the Internet, and it could change how you find out the day's news.’
    • ‘Speaking of awards ceremonies, it appears that the ARIAs are about to be one-upped by the MTV Australia Video Music Awards.’
    • ‘The program also one-ups Netscape by letting you choose to be notified of sites attempting to set prohibited cookies.’
    • ‘This means either that Allen has become a more generous writer with age that allows himself to be one-upped by his onscreen opponents or this is a sad signal of his becoming unmotivated and tired of being the funniest man in his films.’
    • ‘The idea is that atheists should call themselves ‘brights’ as a way to distinguish themselves and to intellectually one-up those benighted believers.’
    • ‘Across the water is the competitive dad of the Murtaugh clan, and soon he and Martin are at odds, enlisting their kids to try and one-up each other.’
    • ‘Beaming, the designer of the horse-bottle-giraffe combo retreated behind the studio curtains as another designer emerged, ready to one-up his opponent with still loftier flights of Photoshop-fancy.’
    • ‘Since the words didn't change within that ten second interval I had to conclude that if you have the audacity to present some idiotic idea for a research grant that some institute will one-up you by actually funding the project.’
    • ‘But a coalition of Quebec-based groups have decided to one-up the UN, making all of next week the Week of Action Against Racism.’
    • ‘I tried to explain to Rob this whole long talk I had with my professor about life, but Rob one-upped me by telling me a story about how he got in real big trouble and got a really big fine.’
    • ‘‘Yeah, too bad it didn't win’ said Kate, taking advantage of her opportunity to one-up Holly’
    • ‘Around the dinner table tonight, the topic of weblog popularity came up, so we took turns one-upping each other about how little we care about being popular.’
    • ‘Adopting the one-up system he had studied at the European Championships in Portugal, Moyes has busied his ranks of willing midfielders in supporting a lone attacker whilst keeping the solid shape of the team.’
    • ‘Maybe someday we'll start one-upping another in the job hunt by going to grad school.’
    • ‘The year-old LA store even one-upped the two SF Bay Area locations by adding an upstairs and packing in an even more ludicrous amount of music.’
    • ‘I was on my way to listen to them bicker and one-up each other all afternoon while I wondered how to justify in my own mind my participation in this ‘holiday’.’
    • ‘I just don't see why we have to one-up each other.’
    • ‘When we last saw Tommy, he was figuring out how his Auburn Tigers could one-up the party in Miami and gain a split national championship with some well-timed posturing and pleading after his little tryst with Frank in New Orleans.’
    • ‘The spatial limitations didn't restrain these performances at all: they grandstanded, one-upped each other, and made what I can only describe as ‘European’ arm gestures at the audience in a bravura display.’
    • ‘Man, just when I thought I'd done a decent job of promoting the blogosphere, Pejman one-ups me.’