There are 3 main definitions of on in English:

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on 1

Pronunciation: /än/


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.
so as to be resting on, on to, onto, to the (upper) surface
1.2As a result of accidental physical contact with: one of the children had cut a foot on some glass 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.
resting on, supported by, resting atop, touching the (upper) surface of
1.4So as to be supported or held by: 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 (the person referred to): she only had a few dollars 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 something): 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: a book on careers essays on a wide range of issues
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: modeled on the Mayflower Compact dependent on availability
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 the city 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.
6Having (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 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 traveling in (a public conveyance): 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.
7.2Onto (a public conveyance) with the intention of traveling 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 cents on the electric 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 get your shoes 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.
2.1Further forward; in an advanced state: 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 entertainment or other event) taking place or being presented: what’s on at the 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 reorganization 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
4.1(Of a performer, etc.) broadcasting or acting.
Example sentences
  • I never know who's on at Glastonbury.
  • At one point Chris stubbed his toe, and, in pain turned to me and said, ‘you'll have to go on instead.’
  • We were in this band, right? We were on at the Roundhouse with Pink Floyd.
4.2(Of an employee) working.
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.



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.

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.
for a long time, for ages, for hours, at (great) length, incessantly, ceaselessly, constantly, continuously, continually, endlessly, unendingly, eternally, forever, interminably, unremittingly, relentlessly, indefatigably, without letup, without a pause/break, without cease

what are you on?

informal Said to express incredulity at someone’s behavior, with the implication that they must be under the influence of drugs.
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.


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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There are 3 main definitions of on in English:

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ON 3


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