Share this entry

Share this page


Syllabification: up·on
Pronunciation: /əˈpän

Definition of upon in English:


More formal term for on, especially in abstract senses. it was based upon two principles a school’s dependence upon parental support
More example sentences
  • He is building a fan base upon the goodwill he has generated since taking over the club.
  • The worrying thing is how those in power interpret the way we vote and act upon it to stay in power.
  • Taste is based upon a certain set of assumptions about what is good or bad in the world.


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


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.

Definition of upon in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day quintillion
Pronunciation: kwɪnˈtɪljən
a thousand raised to the power of six…