Definition of above in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /əˈbʌv/


1In extended space over and not touching: a display of fireworks above the town a cable runs above the duct
More example sentences
  • The event will snake through the city centre culminating with a fireworks display above Leeds Town Hall at midnight.
  • Michael Alstad's videos reveal urban spaces that are above or below the passenger's sightlines.
  • The only significant addition to security since then has been in clearing and monitoring the air space above Utah during the Games.
1.1Extending upwards over: she held her arms above her head
More example sentences
  • She demonstrates a move, flowing gracefully into position with arms extended above her head.
  • Keep in mind that abdominal muscle force increases as the arms are extended further above the head.
  • Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip and extend your arms straight above your face.
1.2Higher than and to one side of; overlooking: in the hills above the capital on the wall above the altar
More example sentences
  • Looters hit a police station in Petionville, an upscale suburb in the hills above the capital.
  • The western wall, either side of and above the main entrance, is waiting.
  • Follow the path as it snakes its way along the shoulder of the hill high above the Gannel Burn, on the right side of the glen opposite Law Hill.
over, higher (up) than, overlooking;
on top of, atop, on, upon
2At a higher level or layer than: from his flat above the corner shop bruises above both eyes
More example sentences
  • There's a nest in the woodrose vine outside the drawing room window, just above my eye level.
  • The Jewish lady in the flat above ours has her window open; she's listening to opera and so is everyone else.
  • The office was above the street level, all of the windows miraculously kept intact.
2.1Higher in grade or rank than: at a level above the common people
More example sentences
  • His rank and station have not been released by police, but it is understood he is of, or above, senior sergeant rank.
  • Kelvin Hall saw an eight per cent rise in the number of children who gained five GCSEs above grade C.
  • We have no bowlers capable of beating any of the teams ranked above us.
superior to, senior to, over, higher than, higher up than, more powerful than, more responsible than, ahead of;
in charge of, commanding
2.2Considered of higher status or worth than; too good for: she married above her
More example sentences
  • Why should a Garda have a certain status above the layperson?
  • Pilots had some control over their fate, which gave them a status above the powerless foot soldiers in the trenches below.
  • Both companies have had their bond ratings reduced to one step above junk status.
2.3In preference to: the firm cynically chose profit above car safety
More example sentences
  • The companies must ensure that they do not put production and profit above the safety of human lives.
  • His work at Balco testifies to a character that placed profit above honesty and too easily chose wealth over morality.
  • In doing so he demonstrates a clear preference of respectability above passion.
more than, over, before, rather than, in preference to, in favour of, instead of, sooner than
2.4At a higher volume or pitch than: he seldom spoke above a whisper the doorbell went unheard above the din
More example sentences
  • They were polite and spoke barely above a whisper and never used faults in an animal to force a deal.
  • Aedelin spoke softly, barely above a whisper, and this time it was he who closed his eyes.
  • However, forecasters have still to make themselves heard above this huge volume of statistical noise.
3Higher than (a specified amount, rate, or norm): the food was well above average above sea level
More example sentences
  • Teenage pregnancy rates there have soared above the national average since the project's start.
  • There was also an above average suicide rate compared to other ethnic minorities and high levels of alcohol abuse.
  • However, the region has been growing at rates well above the provincial average.
greater than, more than, higher than, exceeding, in excess of, over, over and above, beyond, surpassing, upwards of


1At a higher level or layer: place a quantity of mud in a jar with water above
More example sentences
  • The walls of the glen loomed dark and heavy above and overhead the stars seemed to spin around him.
  • I, then, noticed a bright light in the sky above and not too far beyond the mountaintops.
  • The cavern ceiling above shimmered as light was caught on its crystalline surface.
overhead, on/at the top, on/at a higher place, high up, on high, up above, (up) in the sky, high above one's head, aloft, (up) in the heavens
1.1Higher in grade or rank: an officer of the rank of superintendent or above
More example sentences
  • And last year 82 per cent of its pupils gained five or more grade C and above GCSEs.
  • It is largely left to the officer who is generally of inspector rank or above to actually tailor what is required to the person individually.
  • Its best performance two years ago saw 25 per cent of children gain five GCSEs or more at grade C or above.
1.2Higher than a specified amount, rate, or norm: boats of 31 ft or above
More example sentences
  • Low to mid-20s would be a good average for most people with anything above seen as a bonus.
  • Close links between parents and the school were welcomed, while standards in all subjects were rated average or above.
  • Besides, one gram of gold is being offered on every purchase worth Rs.10,000 or above.
1.3(In printed text) mentioned earlier or further up on the same page: the two cases described above see above left [as adjective]: at the above address [as noun]: since writing the above, I have reconsidered
More example sentences
  • According to Vassilev, the new strategy will consider all the above and then be submitted to the Cabinet.
  • The Central Remedial Clinic is giving four lucky Waterford people the chance to do all of the above and more!
  • All of the above come with roasted potatoes, rice or fries, and fresh market vegetables.
earlier, previously, before, formerly, further back
preceding, precedent, previous, earlier, former, foregoing, prior, antecedent, above-stated;
aforementioned, aforesaid
rare anterior, prevenient, precursive, supra



above all (else)

More so than anything else: he was concerned above all to speak the truth
More example sentences
  • Neutral Good characters believe in the power of good above all else.
  • This was a night that testified to United powers and, above all, to the glory of football in its ideal state.
  • Such a principle, above all else, is what we must seek as we try to understand the world around us.
most importantly, before everything, beyond everything, first of all, most of all, chiefly, primarily, in the first place, first and foremost, mainly, principally, predominantly, especially, essentially, basically, elementally, in essence, at bottom
informal at the end of the day, when all is said and done

above and beyond

In excess of the expectations or demands of: she was always there to help us out in difficult times, above and beyond the call of duty
More example sentences
  • And just ahead are our weekly tribute to a member of our Armed services who served above and beyond the call of duty.
  • She has been my campaign manager for three elections, and has served above and beyond the call of duty.
  • She said she appreciated their passion and their concern even above and beyond the official job.
2.1In addition to: you might consider giving employees an extra day or two off each quarter, above and beyond sick days
More example sentences
  • But recently, new forms of genomic variation have been appreciated above and beyond single nucleotide polymorphisms.
  • But graduating to better and better publications is hard without some work above and beyond turning in stories.
  • The airline did only what the FAA required even though going above and beyond would have been prudent.

above oneself

Conceited; arrogant: he’s getting a bit above himself
More example sentences
  • These were, after all, the descendants of people who had learned bitter lessons about the dangers of ‘getting above yourself.’
  • Unfortunately, these places have got above themselves and imagine that they can get away with charging a fiver, not including the extremely tiny cup of tea or coffee, that costs £1.10.
  • But equally, he is careful to ensure that nobody gets above themselves and that ‘everyone works for the team.’
conceited, proud, arrogant, self-important, haughty, disdainful, snobbish, snobby, supercilious, imperious
informal stuck-up, cocky, high and mighty, snooty, uppity, uppish, big-headed, swollen-headed, too big for one's boots

above the law

In a position where one can avoid being bound by the laws that govern ordinary people: the army was above the law and enjoyed complete impunity
More example sentences
  • He thought he might declare himself above the law.
  • All seemingly performed by an executive which thinks itself above the law.
  • Future Supreme Court nominee Gonzales says the President is now above the law.

from above

From overhead: branches rained from above
More example sentences
  • Yes, I water from the top, but they can live outdoors down here and rain falls from above.
  • His hands glowed a bloody red, and the rain from above strengthened and poured down.
  • He succeeds in getting it out, only to have many small boxes rain on him from above.
5.1From a position of higher rank or authority: mass culture is imposed from above
More example sentences
  • What France needed was authority from above, confidence from below.
  • These schemes of working closer together are imposed from above, and are not what many grass-roots people want.
  • Nobody is seriously concerned about a conservative roll-back imposed from above.

not be above

Be capable of stooping to (an unworthy act): he was not above practical jokes
More example sentences
  • I just hoped Luke, along with his designer moodiness, wasn't above actually driving there.
  • He has a sense of humor too, and isn't above mugging for the camera.
  • Anyway, she isn't above such comments herself.

up above

Above one’s head; overhead: we heard a sudden rumbling from up above
More example sentences
  • Mounted to the ceiling above were all sorts of surgical implements attached directly to the power source up above on long, retractable arms.
  • Our attention was soon called to the wide expanse of blue sky by the loud screeching of the hawks up above us.
  • Comrade Evans pulling me out by the feet whilst a snow storm raged up above.


Old English abufan (as an adverb), from a- 'on' + bufan (from bi 'by' + ufan 'above').

Words that rhyme with above

dove, glove, guv, love, shove, tug-of-love

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: above

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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