Main definitions of upper in US English:

: upper1upper2

upper1

adjective

  • 1Situated above another part.

    ‘his upper arm’
    ‘the upper atmosphere’
    • ‘The upper levels, above and beyond the landing near the door to the library, were completely unlit, and nobody ever went up there.’
    • ‘They arise when the water vapour from hot aircraft exhausts mixes with the cool air of the upper atmosphere, about 32,000 ft above the Earth's surface.’
    • ‘High above me on the upper floor of a tall narrow-domed building a bell ringer was perfecting his art.’
    • ‘The teenager has a half-inch vertical scar above her upper lip and speaks with a local accent.’
    • ‘In the emotionally-charged atmosphere, I even put my hand on his upper arm and squeezed it in sympathy.’
    • ‘For those of you not in the know, the ozone layer is a layer of the upper atmosphere lying about 19 to 48 km above the earth's surface.’
    • ‘Points are scored by landing blows on the front of the head or upper body, above the belt.’
    • ‘The streets of the town were still, but for someone singing in the upper floor above a nearby shop.’
    • ‘Place the cuff on your bare upper arm one-inch above the bend of your elbow.’
    • ‘The film opens with a massive space battle in the upper reaches of the atmosphere.’
    • ‘And for baking items that need not brown too quickly, you could position the rack in the upper third of the oven.’
    • ‘She wore her hair flipped and had heavy black eyeliner above her upper lashes, just like Brigitte Bardot.’
    • ‘Below it is a grand looking sofa that has large wooden arms at each side and an ornate square pattern that runs above the upper cushion.’
    • ‘So it's a good thing the meteor blew apart into small pieces in the upper atmosphere, rather than just above the ground.’
    • ‘The gunmen had taken up position in an upper floor bathroom across from the minister's tightly-guarded home.’
    • ‘For the upper lids, the surgeon makes the incision right in the upper lid skin crease above your eyelashes, so it is very well hidden.’
    • ‘The upper tier, above the railing, has nine rows of wooden seats while the lower tier had three rows of seats before they were removed.’
    • ‘In this position, your upper body weight will more likely balance on your skeletal structure, enabling the surrounding back muscles to relax.’
    • ‘Forcefully press the weights in an arc above your upper chest, exhaling as you pass the midpoint.’
    • ‘Sweat had appeared on her upper lip, above her bright red lipstick line.’
    1. 1.1 Higher in position or status.
      ‘the upper end of the social scale’
      • ‘Not only is completing one of these programs a good way to get a job - soon it may be the only way to find a position in the upper echelons of community college management.’
      • ‘By the start of next season, I want us to be pitching for a position at the upper end of the league table.’
      • ‘In the villages, an automobile is an unusual and significant symbol of upper social status.’
      • ‘La Cuisine is positioned at the upper end of the ‘middle’ market and its food is generously served and is excellent.’
      • ‘These farmers are mostly uneducated but they take full advantage of the benefits they can derive from their upper caste status.’
      • ‘Burke adds that the study should eventually outline efforts companies are making towards getting more women in upper level positions.’
      • ‘It was standard practice in the Village for youngsters of lower Ranks to serve an Upper family; many Uppers believed that the children concerned would benefit from regular contact with their Superiors.’
      • ‘Most of the others had bourgeois backgrounds, their families frequently positioned among the upper professional echelons.’
      • ‘Should we be struggling to improve women's position in the upper layers of the bourgeoisie, or should we be addressing the fundamental divisions within society?’
      • ‘The sample was relatively small, predominantly white, female, and of mid to upper socioeconomic status.’
      • ‘He was a strict college professor who'd managed to rise to the upper social status himself.’
      senior, superior, higher-level, higher-ranking, highest-ranking, top, chief, more important, most important, elevated, eminent, high-status
      View synonyms
  • 2Situated on higher ground.

    • ‘On either side of the fountain, a curved staircase connected the ground floor to an upper walkway that encircled the entire room.’
    • ‘One goal was to return fish to traditional spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the Clearwater tributaries, strengthening natural fish runs.’
    • ‘The road was still following the contour of the upper hillside.’
    • ‘Small streams are common on many moors and upper river catchment areas.’
    • ‘Winding through the upper canyon, much of the trail has been washed away by the fierce spring run-off from the glaciers still hanging above.’
    • ‘The birds typically forage along the upper edge of mudflats, or up on sandy beaches, often in vegetation.’
    • ‘The upper estuary has a single main channel that meanders through extensive fresh and salt marshes.’
    • ‘This habitat extends partway up the adjacent slopes, while upland forest occupies the upper slopes and ridge tops.’
    • ‘It is hoped work will be completed in time for the autumn run of sea trout and salmon, who will for the first time be able to make their way to the productive spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the Yarrow.’
    • ‘Shortly after passing a group of holly trees, the path starts to bear left over more boggy ground, and the upper slopes and crags come into view.’
    higher, further-up, loftier
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Situated to the north.
      in place names ‘Upper California’
      • ‘He had, by that time, a degree in Russian literature, a head of graying hair, and an Upper West Side apartment.’
      • ‘‘Black will always be the cornerstone of New York fashion,’ said a New York attorney friend during a jaunt to an Upper West Side boutique in search of a black jacket.’
      • ‘A week before Labor Day, I walked into the emergency room of an Upper East Side hospital in New York complaining of severe head and body aches.’
      • ‘The tour raises money for the Wesley Institute, an Upper St. Clair nonprofit organization that provides services to Southwestern Pennsylvania youths with mental health and behavioral challenges.’
      • ‘The night before the marathon, the Rosses celebrated their anniversary at an Upper West Side Japanese restaurant, located beneath the apartment where he lived when a podiatry student.’
      • ‘In the early nineties, she was a trainer at Pumping Iron, an Upper East Side gym, and ran ads in magazines to get new clients.’
      • ‘A spy reports later seeing the actress at an Upper West Side restaurant dining with a friend and picking through a tuna salad which she ultimately did not eat.’
      • ‘She worked in the music industry in Los Angeles for many years but recently moved back to an Upper East Side apartment, where she is trying to write a screenplay and buying vintage clothing and jewelry to resell on eBay.’
      • ‘In a separate fly-tipping incident, Malcolm Wilson of Acomb, York, admitted he dumped household sacks and furniture in an Upper Poppleton lay-by.’
      • ‘After all, if there were no seasonal workers, how would an Upper Canadian feel if he came East on his vacation and found there was no one to cook his lobster?’
      • ‘John Maher, an Upper St. Clair Republican, said leaders ‘are aware of my desire for openness.’’
      • ‘Pupils at an Upper Hutt school are up in arms after being told not to hug each other at school.’
      • ‘The new library at an Upper Stratton school has been named after its first headteacher.’
  • 3Archaeology Geology
    Denoting a younger (and hence usually shallower) part of a stratigraphic division or archaeological deposit or the period in which it was formed or deposited.

    ‘the Upper Paleolithic age’

noun

  • The part of a boot or shoe above the sole.

    ‘leather uppers’
    • ‘The uppers are colored maroon, red, and green, and the boots are tied on with colored garters.’
    • ‘Any hunting footwear you stock should have boot uppers made of rigid material to provide adequate ankle support and protection.’
    • ‘Trousers should end where the heel of the shoe meets the uppers.’
    • ‘Its brightly coloured leather upper contrasts beautifully with the chocolate brown sole, making it the perfect choice for those summer picnics.’
    • ‘I'm fortunate in having a decent cobbler nearby, so I can get boots reheeled until the uppers collapse.’
    • ‘Down the side streets are specialized shops supplying this little industry - some sell bundles of shoelaces, others leather, and still others pre-made shoe uppers.’
    • ‘Go for a style with leather uppers, which help the feet to breathe, and synthetic soles, which slip less and last a lot longer.’
    • ‘I am not sure what material the competitors use for their uppers, so I am not able to answer you correctly about their products.’
    • ‘Well-fitting shoes with a firm sole and soft upper are the best way to prevent most foot problems.’
    • ‘Gone are the thoughts of pure function, of rubber soles and leather uppers.’
    • ‘At about the same time, farm women also worked at binding and stitching shoe uppers.’
    • ‘Boots with soft uppers and minimal ankle support can see you with twisted ankles should you slip and jam your foot in a crack.’

Phrases

  • have (or gain) the upper hand

    • Have or gain advantage or control over someone or something.

      • ‘Hussain also believes that the Australians usually gained the upper hand by bullying the opposition, and this is a pitfall the English team must avoid.’
      • ‘However, it would be wrong to think that the government has the upper hand in controlling public opinion.’
      • ‘Although in some classes of the society, the boy and the girl are given a bigger say, still it is the family that usually has the upper hand.’
      • ‘Just when Claudius thinks he controls Hamlet, it is really Hamlet who has the upper hand over Claudius.’
      • ‘Both teams strove to gain the upper hand but were very evenly matched.’
      • ‘She had the upper hand, and she was using it well to her advantage.’
      an advantage, a commanding position, an edge, the edge, the whip hand, a lead, a head start, ascendancy, superiority, supremacy, sway, control, predominance, power, mastery, dominance, command
      View synonyms
  • on one's uppers

    • informal Extremely short of money.

      • ‘But new research suggests that far from being on their uppers, people approaching retirement today are better off than their parents' generation was when it retired, with small debts and big assets.’
      • ‘Both characters are on their uppers and Anna's way out is to find someone to pay for her and look after her.’
      • ‘In early 1938, on his uppers after his divorce from Flor, he had agreed to smuggle a small fortune in jewels out of Spain during the civil war.’
      • ‘After years on his uppers, Jack Vettriano was finally on the up.’
      • ‘Her favourite characters are those on their uppers, losers with dignity, viewed by the story teller with patronising assumptions but to the end deeply unknown.’
      • ‘A timeless comedy, this story is about the upper classes on their uppers while the inimitable Jeeves is always on hand to sort out their mess.’
      penniless, impoverished, poverty-stricken, poor, destitute, impecunious, indigent, down and out, pauperized, without a penny to one's name, without two farthings to rub together, without two pennies to rub together
      View synonyms

Origin

Middle English: from the adjective up + -er.

Pronunciation

upper

/ˈəpər//ˈəpər/

Main definitions of upper in US English:

: upper1upper2

upper2

noun

usually uppers
informal
  • A stimulating drug, especially amphetamine.

    • ‘Among drug users, abused youth were significantly younger than their nonabused peers in mean age of onset of marijuana, cocaine, and uppers use.’
    • ‘Once upon an era, batters cheated by corking their bats or taking uppers to keep themselves stimulated.’
    • ‘Because monthly use of cocaine, uppers, and LSD is rare and infrequent among adolescents, annual estimates were employed to provide sufficient distribution for conducting meaningful analyses.’
    • ‘Antidepressant medications are not uppers and are not addictive.’
    • ‘I will give you higher dosages of your usual uppers.’
    • ‘I haven't resorted to taking uppers or any other sort of chemical relief from all the stress, including the migraine pills which my girlfriend has been doing lately.’
    • ‘Ana laughed it down, stuffing her hand into her pocket and pulling out two small yellow pills, uppers to block her sorrow.’
    • ‘I took two of the uppers, stuffed the rest into the bottle, replaced the bottle, and went into the bathroom.’
    • ‘Information gleaned from this survey included age of onset of use of marijuana, cocaine, uppers, and LSD.’
    • ‘It was party time. As time went on drink wasn't the answer for me, so I started experimenting with ‘E’ and speed and all the uppers.’
    • ‘My brother was ‘a naughty boy’ and dabbled with drugs, nothing grotesquely bad, just uppers and downers, but we think one day he got carried away and accidentally took too many of one sort or the other.’
    • ‘My problem wasn't all that exciting; I hadn't been swallowed up by the underground rave scene, nor was I addicted to uppers, downers, or even over-the-counter nasal sprays.’
    • ‘The effects aren't as potent as cocaine or uppers, but are similar.’

Origin

1960s: from the verb up + -er.

Pronunciation

upper

/ˈəpər//ˈəpər/