Definition of upon in US English:



  • ‘it was based upon two principles’
    more formal term for on, especially in abstract senses
    ‘a school's dependence upon parental support’
    • ‘The head chef is the key foundation upon which the business is built as are all the staff.’
    • ‘I will have to travel a distance to make it there and do not want to find it closed upon arrival.’
    • ‘He is building a fan base upon the goodwill he has generated since taking over the club.’
    • ‘The pressure upon him is heavy, not least because everything is now out of his hands.’
    • ‘She had a core of inner strength and she could be relied upon if you really needed help or you were in a mess.’
    • ‘It also drew upon his undoubted gifts as a poet and his intuitive genius as an historian.’
    • ‘It's a radio show that's been going for year upon year but very few people listen to it.’
    • ‘The worrying thing is how those in power interpret the way we vote and act upon it to stay in power.’
    • ‘It is a seed of hope within what you rightly describe as a society based upon violence.’
    • ‘They look upon him as a political sage, a voice of freedom, a speaker of truth to power.’
    • ‘An American ship came to the island upon which we were being kept and we were freed.’
    • ‘I am only qualified to speak on my own behalf so that is all my opinion can be based upon.’
    • ‘He'd taken it upon himself to go to a friend's house, but did not tell us he was going.’
    • ‘This is exactly the kind of sportsmanship this great game of rugby union is built upon.’
    • ‘I take it upon myself to guide her there, and follow the signs until we reach a doorway.’
    • ‘Easter is almost upon us and with it will come the full blast of the tourist trade.’
    • ‘He has also made sure that the club has a far wider range of players to call upon.’
    • ‘Taste is based upon a certain set of assumptions about what is good or bad in the world.’
    • ‘Part of the city and a theme park will be built upon artificial islands on the lake.’
    • ‘It now offers a new owner the chance to build upon its past and to reawaken it as a working estate.’


The preposition upon has the same core meaning as the preposition on. Upon is sometimes more formal than on, however, and is preferred in the phrases once upon a time and upon my word, and in uses such as row upon row of seats and Christmas is almost upon us


Middle English: from up + on, suggested by Old Norse upp á.