There are 2 main definitions of upper in English:

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upper 1

Line breaks: upper
Pronunciation: /ˈʌpə/


1Situated above another part: his upper arm the upper atmosphere
More example sentences
  • Place the cuff on your bare upper arm one-inch above the bend of your elbow.
  • 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.
  • 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.
1.1Higher in position or status: the upper end of the social scale
More example sentences
  • These farmers are mostly uneducated but they take full advantage of the benefits they can derive from their upper caste status.
  • By the start of next season, I want us to be pitching for a position at the upper end of the league table.
  • 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?
senior, superior, higher-level, higher-ranking, highest-ranking, top, chief, more/most important, elevated, eminent, high-status
2Situated on higher ground.
Example sentences
  • One goal was to return fish to traditional spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the Clearwater tributaries, strengthening natural fish runs.
  • On either side of the fountain, a curved staircase connected the ground floor to an upper walkway that encircled the entire room.
  • 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.
higher, further-up, loftier;
overlying, superior;
2.1Situated to the north: [in place names]: Upper California
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • John Maher, an Upper St. Clair Republican, said leaders ‘are aware of my desire for openness.’
  • 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.
3 Geology & Archaeology 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 Palaeolithic age


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The part of a boot or shoe above the sole: leather uppers
More example sentences
  • Gone are the thoughts of pure function, of rubber soles and leather uppers.
  • 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.


have (or gain) the upper hand
Have or gain advantage or control over someone or something: he usually has the upper hand because he’s older each strives to gain the upper hand in military might
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Both teams strove to gain the upper hand but were very evenly matched.
an advantage, a commanding position, an/the edge, the whip hand, a lead, a head start, ascendancy, superiority, supremacy, sway, control, predominance, power, mastery, dominance, command
rare prepotence, prepotency, paramountcy, prepollency
on one's uppers
informal Extremely short of money: Joe invited us out to lunch because we were both on our uppers
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
penniless, impoverished, poverty-stricken, poor, destitute, impecunious, indigent, down and out, pauperized, without a penny to one's name, without two farthings/pennies to rub together;
insolvent, ruined;
needy, in need, in want, hard up, on the breadline, hard-pressed, in reduced/straitened circumstances, deprived, disadvantaged, distressed, badly off;
beggarly, beggared
informal up against it, broke, flat broke, strapped (for cash), without a brass farthing, without a bean, without a sou, as poor as a church mouse, on one's beam-ends
British informal stony broke, skint, boracic (lint)
North American informal stone broke, without a red cent, on skid row
formal penurious
the upper crust
informal The upper classes: a sort of trade school for the upper crust
More example sentences
  • They are the upper crust of the middle class, educated and ideological (if not idealistic). The novel opens just after a ‘revolution’ has stormed through Chelsea.
  • They range from the downright common to the ultimate upper crust in Paul's eyes, and with every sketch the audience hugged itself with glee.
  • Offering a new high to pub-hoppers is the exclusive upper crust joint, ‘Bottles and Chimney’ that opened at Begumpet.


Middle English: from the adjective up + -er2.

Words that rhyme with upper

crupper, cuppa, scupper, supper
Definition of upper in:
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There are 2 main definitions of upper in English:

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upper 2 Line breaks: upper
Pronunciation: /ˈʌpə/


(usually uppers) informal
A stimulating drug, especially amphetamine.
Example sentences
  • Information gleaned from this survey included age of onset of use of marijuana, cocaine, uppers, and LSD.
  • 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.
  • Among drug users, abused youth were significantly younger than their nonabused peers in mean age of onset of marijuana, cocaine, and uppers use.


1960s: from the verb up + -er1.

Definition of upper in:
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