There are 3 main definitions of on in English:

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on 1

Pronunciation: /ɒn/


1Physically in contact with and supported by (a surface): on the table was a water jug she was lying on the floor a sign on the front gate
More example sentences
  • There was a crystal vase filled with flowers on the table.
  • I was standing on a chair in front of the mirror while Mother dressed me and combed my hair.
  • She felt his hands on her shoulders.
1.1Located somewhere in the general surface area of (a place): an internment camp on the island the house on the corner
More example sentences
  • Nearly every town on the coast and islands has an equipped marina.
  • The only surviving Georgian house on the street was semi-derelict.
  • He tracks them through the forest and marshlands and finally finds that they have taken refuge inside a shack on the riverbank.
1.2As a result of accidental physical contact with: he banged his head on a beam
More example sentences
  • While walking he stubbed his toe on a sharp rock.
  • I am glad I didn't cut myself on the broken glass.
  • He did his best not to cut himself on the jagged edge of the can.
1.3Supported by (a part of the body): he was lying on his back
More example sentences
  • Kelly underwent 11 major surgeries and spent long hours stretched out on her back, on a morphine drip.
  • Why do flamingos stand on one leg?
  • The longest recorded duration for balancing on one foot is 76 hours 40 minutes.
1.4On to: put it on the table
More example sentences
  • He put the empty bottle on the desk.
  • I put my hand on his shoulder.
  • Hang your coat on the hook there and let's go to the kitchen for tea.
1.5In the possession of; being carried by: she only had a few pounds on her
More example sentences
  • He reached into his pocket, only to discover that he didn't have his wallet on him.
  • I'll give you my agent's number, but I don't have it on me right now.
  • If they do not have any money on them, the police take them to the police station.
2Forming a distinctive or marked part of the surface of: a scratch on her arm a smile on her face
More example sentences
  • I looked in the mirror and noticed a mark on my chest.
  • My son has a bruise on his forehead.
  • I've got a nasty scratch on my car.
3Having (the thing mentioned) as a topic; about: a book on careers
More example sentences
  • The details on side effects are listed in Table 2 of the online supplement.
  • I attempted to understand the articles on cricket but failed miserably.
  • I want to write a book on how to eat properly.
3.1Having (the thing mentioned) as a basis: a constitution modelled on America’s
More example sentences
  • The film is based on a true story.
  • How often they remove the snow is dependant on the weather.
  • Traditional Cambridge colleges, modelled on monastic cloisters, consist of courts surrounded by walls of individual rooms.
4As a member of (a committee, jury, or other body): they would be allowed to serve on committees
More example sentences
  • I knew he was on the jury but did not talk to him about it.
  • He was on several committees and was a former Lord Mayor.
  • She served on many advisory councils and boards.
5Having (the thing mentioned) as a target, aim, or focus: five air raids on Schweinfurt thousands marching on Washington her eyes were fixed on his dark profile
More example sentences
  • They're planning an attack on the city.
  • The colourful protest marched on the Scottish Parliament.
  • They never actually engaged in close combat by firing on the enemy.
6(Often followed by a noun without a determiner) having (the thing mentioned) as a medium for transmitting or storing information: put your ideas down on paper stored on the client’s own computer
More example sentences
  • All of these films are available in restored, good quality editions and most are now available on DVD.
  • I spent a lot time driving and listening to books on tape.
  • I have the whole series on tape.
6.1Being broadcast by (a radio or television channel): a new twelve-part TV series on Channel 4
More example sentences
  • One of my favourite sketch shows is being repeated on radio four at the moment.
  • The show will be broadcast on CBS on December 26th.
  • He is transfixed by footage of riots showing on Sky News.
7In the course of (a journey): he was on his way to see his mother
More example sentences
  • I stopped to pick up a gallon of milk on my way home from work.
  • I'm on my way right now.
  • Her symptoms grew increasingly bad during the two-week holiday and her leg became very painful on the trip back to Manchester.
7.1While travelling in (a public vehicle): John got some sleep on the plane
More example sentences
  • I picked up a copy of the magazine to read on the plane this week.
  • They both had their knapsacks stolen on the train.
  • The boys fall asleep on the train.
7.2On to (a public vehicle) with the intention of travelling in it: we got on the train
More example sentences
  • I had a great deal of apprehension getting on the plane to fly to Japan.
  • Peg and Matt enjoy being able to hop on the train to Chicago to go to a lecture or eat at a trendy restaurant.
  • I met him for the first time three weeks ago, when we climbed on the buses to head out to our units.
8Indicating the day or part of a day during which an event takes place: reported on September 26 on a very hot evening in July
More example sentences
  • On the first Monday following Twelfth Night, the corn dolly would be ploughed back into the soil so that its spirit would be released and ensure a good harvest.
  • Despite the protests, the secrecy of proceedings and the bitter collapse of talks on the last day, progress was made.
  • On Saturday night we went to a football match.
8.1At the time of: she was booed on arriving home
More example sentences
  • Rowena was surprised to find, on walking into the meeting room at the hotel, that most of her co-workers had already arrived.
  • He had a commission in the RAF and on leaving in 1990 he joined the Territorial Army.
  • The team was given a great reception on arrival back in Swinford with the Cup.
9Engaged in: his attendant was out on errands
More example sentences
  • Susan was called out of town on business.
  • Jim's just been on holiday in Scotland.
  • She had been on leave caring for a sick child.
10Regularly taking (a drug or medicine): he is on morphine to relieve the pain
More example sentences
  • I was on heavy duty painkillers for 48 hours.
  • Is it safe for her to be on antibiotics for so long?
  • Her son had been on drugs for nine years and was desperate to get rid of the habit.
11Paid for by: the drinks are on me
More example sentences
  • Order what you want from any menu. It's all on the house.
  • The football tickets for the match tomorrow are on you! I'll buy the drinks!
  • If ever we're in the same city, dinner's on me.
12Added to: a few pence on the electricity bill is nothing compared with your security
More example sentences
  • One hundred pounds a year extra on the insurance is not a lot at all.
  • It's all too easy to agree to an extra few pounds on the bill, but that could be costly mistake.
  • We can put another $50 on the course fees.


1Physically in contact with and supported by a surface: make sure the lid is on
More example sentences
  • Can I get into the car when the cover is on?
  • He put the tops on and sealed both glass bottles.
  • Rinse them in hot water and screw on the lids.
1.1(Of clothing) being worn by a person: sitting with her coat on
More example sentences
  • They all put their jackets on and headed down the driveway.
  • With my glasses on I can read signs very far away.
  • ‘What did she have on?’ I asked. ‘A pink top and a blue-jean skirt,’ he said.
2Indicating continuation of a movement or action: she burbled on he drove on and so on
More example sentences
  • They ran on, and eventually came into a long hallway.
  • We started at seven in the morning, worked on without a break until twelve, then, after an hour for lunch, continued again until half-past five.
  • I started competing at 16 and carried on until I was 35.
interminably, at length, for a long time, continuously, endlessly, ceaselessly, without a pause/break
2.1Further forward; in an advanced state: I’ll see you later on time’s getting on
More example sentences
  • I need to lock the door, now the evening's drawing on.
  • A year on, most have returned to their previous lives.
  • Nearly three months on, some of the building work is still not complete.
3(Of an event) taking place or being presented: what’s on at the May Festival there’s a good film on this afternoon
More example sentences
  • The City Theatre has a new play on.
  • There's a war on, and everybody has to make sacrifices.
  • I wonder what's on at the movies tonight.
3.1Due to take place as planned: the match is still on
More example sentences
  • They decided not to have an election. Now it's on again.
  • Ok guys, the party's on!
  • Are we still on for that drink in July?
4(Of an electrical appliance or power supply) functioning: they always left the lights on
More example sentences
  • My dad turned the radio on and proceeded to restlessly channel-surf.
  • Soon more and more houses will have their electricity on, and life will get back to normal.
  • Parents often keep the television on while feeding, dressing, or playing with their children.
functioning, in operation, working, in use, operating
5(Of an actor) on stage.
Example sentences
  • His understudy had to go on for Act II.
  • That's your cue. You're on.
  • She is on for the first 19 minutes of the show.
5.1(Of an employee) working; on duty.
Example sentences
  • I took midnight to 4am and he was on until 8am.
  • I'm on until we close, probably around four in the morning if the crowd keeps up like this.
  • Abby explains she's on all day as a medical student.


(also on side) Cricket The leg side.
Example sentences
  • Playing a ball pitched on the off stump to the on side was satisfying.
  • This forced the spinners to bowl a straighter line, and gave him access to the less-protected on side whenever they erred in length.
  • He bowled too many loose deliveries down the on side, to batsmen who were strong off their legs, and much of the batting left a lot to be desired.



be on about

British informal Talk about tediously and at length: she’s always on about doing one’s duty
More example sentences
  • She was the only person on board who could always understand what he was on about.
  • He talked a lot about the virtues of tolerance and fair play, but nobody had a clue what he was on about.
  • Half of them texted me back wondering what on earth I was on about.

be on at someone

British informal Nag or grumble at someone.
Example sentences
  • I considered doing this project that the telly people have been on at me to do - a history of the 20th century novel.
  • The fans have been on at me for ages to write my own stuff.
  • My Mum has been on at me for ages to do something ‘major’ to celebrate this particular milestone.

it's not on

informal, chiefly British It’s impractical or unacceptable.
Example sentences
  • It doesn't matter whether the offenders are over 75 or under ten, if they make a nuisance of themselves - it's not on.
  • I would just ask the culprits to remember that a lot of people have worked hard to obtain funding for this facility, and that it's not on for them to go around wrecking it just because they are bored.
  • The woman sat opposite moaned - it's not on, calling ‘Last Orders' early.

on and off

Intermittently: it rained on and off most of the afternoon
More example sentences
  • Most days have had fairly heavy rain on and off so we have not been able to get out in the garden to tidy up.
  • There's a girl at work who's been sick on and off over the past few weeks.
  • I lived there on and off for five years, leaving it for the last time in 1977 and moving on.

on and on

Continually; at tedious length: he went on and on about his grandad’s trombone
More example sentences
  • The whole show dragged on and on seemingly forever.
  • But too many suspensions cases have dragged on and on, wasting large sums of taxpayers' money.
  • I tried to make a big show of looking away from the screen till it was over, but the scene went on and on.

on it

Australian /NZ informal Drinking heavily.
Example sentences
  • He knew how drink affected Brand, and he muttered to his wife, ‘He's on it proper to day.’
  • ‘They reckon Groggy's on it again,’ observed Tommy.

on for young and old

Australian /NZ informal (Of a battle, argument, party, etc.) characterized by the participants' lack of inhibition or restraint: if he’d been there when he insulted her it would’ve been on for young and old
More example sentences
  • It was on for young and old, pretty much to the end of the session.
  • A couple of months extra waiting will not hurt, it will be on for young and old soon enough.
  • They spelt it out on the evening news, telling of the e-mail proving everything, and after that it was on for young and old alike.

on with

Australian /NZ informal Having a romantic relationship with (someone): she’s always ringing Jack, and I think she’s on with him
More example sentences
  • She doesn't know, it seems to me, whether she's on with him or off with him.
  • That floozy in the house, I bet he's on with her already.
  • She is on with him again.

what are you on?

informal Said to express incredulity at someone’s behaviour, with the implication that they must be under the influence of drugs: ‘What were you on when you made that track, man?’
More example sentences
  • You are getting creepier and more paranoid than normal… what are you on?
  • I stopped and looked at them as they stared and Shannon said, ‘what are you on?’
  • Ma, its four in the morning, what are you on? Did you overdose on painkillers again?

you're on

informal Said by way of accepting a challenge or bet.
Example sentences
  • If you mean it, you're on! There's lots I could do with three hundred quid.
  • ‘A bottle of tequila says we find it in less than a week,’ Liz said. ‘Make it two, and you're on,’ Isabel said, shaking her hand.
  • Make it £5 and you're on.
See also on to.


Old English on, an, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aan and German an, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek ana.

Words that rhyme with on

aide-de-camp, aides-de-camp, anon, Asunción, au courant, begone, Bonn, bon vivant, Caen, Canton, Carcassonne, Ceylon, chaconne, chateaubriand, ci-devant, Colón, colon, Concepción, con (US conn), cretonne, don, Duchamp, Evonne, foregone, fromage blanc, Gabon, Garonne, gone, guenon, hereupon, Inchon, Jean, john, Jon, Le Mans, León, Luzon, Mont Blanc, Narbonne, odds-on, outgone, outshone, Perón, phon, piñon, Pinot Blanc, plafond, Ramón, Saigon, Saint-Saëns, Sand, Schwann, scone, shone, side-on, sine qua non, Sorbonne, spot-on, swan, thereon, thereupon, ton, Toulon, undergone, upon, Villon, wan, whereon, whereupon, won, wonton, yon, Yvonne

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There are 3 main definitions of on in English:

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ON 2


Ontario (in official postal use).

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Line breaks: ON

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There are 3 main definitions of on in English:

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ON 3


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