Definition of upset in English:

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verb (upsets, upsetting; past and past participle upset)

Pronunciation: /ʌpˈsɛt/
[with object]
1Make (someone) unhappy, disappointed, or worried: the accusation upset her (as adjective upsetting) a painful and upsetting divorce
More example sentences
  • And because I'm her granddaughter, she is going to worry more about upsetting me than about being honest, maybe.
  • The lessons were free, so I'm not worried about upsetting anyone.
  • Aimée glanced up at Logan and studied him, unhappy that she'd upset him by ‘going back on their agreement’.
distress, trouble, perturb, disturb, discompose, unsettle, disconcert, discountenance, dismay, disquiet, worry, bother, inconvenience, agitate, fluster, throw, ruffle, unnerve, shake, frighten, alarm, anger, annoy, irritate, vex, irk, fret, pester, harass, torment, plague, hurt, grieve
informal hassle, peeve, bug, get someone, miff, hack off
British informal wind up, get at, nark, get across, get on someone's wick
North American informal tick off, bum out
2Knock (something) over: he upset a tureen of soup
More example sentences
  • Her new paint jar was upset, along with the chair lying side ways on the floor.
  • ‘Oh, I'm so terribly sorry’, he adds, thoroughly mortified, reaching for a napkin and upsetting the table again.
  • A few minutes later, the ship trembled slightly, enough to make one lose their balance, but not enough to upset anything.
knock over, overturn, upend, tip over, push over, topple (over), capsize, turn topsy-turvy;
spill, slop, slosh;
Scottish & Northern Irish  cowp
archaic overset
3Cause disorder in; disrupt: the dam will upset the ecological balance
More example sentences
  • We read regularly about the horrors that can befall our planet if we upset the fine ecological balance.
  • Long hours and late hours could upset the ‘work-life balance’, especially when there are inadequate support systems.
  • While they cannot win, they can upset the normal campaigning balance.
disrupt, interfere with, disturb, throw out, turn topsy-turvy, disorder, unsettle, confuse, throw into confusion, throw into chaos, throw into disorder, disorganize, disarrange, mix up, jumble, mess up, wreck, ruin
3.1Disturb the digestion of (a person’s stomach): the motion of the boat would upset his stomach
More example sentences
  • Avoid carbonated drinks as these are likely to upset your stomach more than still liquids
  • Her weight dropped by more than 30 pounds; she was frightened that food would upset her stomach.
  • There are certain medications that upset the stomach while others affect the mouth or throat which may make it difficult for the patient to eat.
4 (often as noun upsetting) Shorten and thicken the end or edge of (a metal bar, wheel rim, or other object), especially by hammering or pressure when heated.
Example sentences
  • Pressure is then applied and the arcs are extinguished and upsetting occurs.
  • This process was developed originally to gather, or upset metal to form heads on bolts.


Pronunciation: /ˈʌpsɛt/
1An unexpected result or situation: the greatest upset in boxing history
More example sentences
  • As the election campaign gathers pace, a discernible public alienation and antagonism is being felt around the mainstream parties that may result in some unexpected upsets at the polls
  • Again, things could be further complicated if there are upsets or no results in the minor matches.
  • And so it has been for supporters of Roscommon and Leitrim who have seen ‘middling’ teams cause major and unexpected upsets over the years.
unexpected result;
major defeat, rout, trouncing, thrashing, drubbing, toppling;
surprise victory, coup, tour de force, feat, master stroke
informal hammering
2 [mass noun] The state of being unhappy, disappointed, or worried: a legal dispute will cause worry and upset
More example sentences
  • It can get out of control and is the cause of much upset and worry for many people.
  • Christine, who now works at Woodhead Brothers, Colne, broke down as she heard the verdict and said she was looking forward to getting back to a normal life after ten months of worry and upset and the threat of jail.
  • Walking over, his face showed rising worry and upset.
distress, trouble, perturbation, disturbance, discomposure, dismay, disquiet, worry, bother, inconvenience, agitation, fluster, alarm, fright, anger, annoyance, irritation, vexation, harassment, torment, hurt, grief
3A disturbance of a person’s digestive system: a stomach upset
More example sentences
  • Others reported a loss of appetite, insomnia, digestive upsets, palpitations, headaches, and muscular aches and pains.
  • Many arthritis sufferers benefit greatly from the pain relief provided by anti-inflammatory prescription drugs, but they can suffer unpleasant side effects, such as gastric irritation and stomach upsets.
  • Many stomach upsets are simply caused because our bodies are not used to exotic or spicy foods.
disorder, complaint, ailment, illness, sickness, disease, malady, affliction, indisposition, infirmity
informal lurgy, bug
Australian informal wog


1ʌpˈsɛt Unhappy, disappointed, or worried: she looked pale and upset
More example sentences
  • And they were very clearly upset about the arrests.
  • There are many in the party who are desperately and bitterly upset about what happened to Simon Crean, so they are not happy about having to choose another leader.
  • Others were also upset about Anderson's division of the resource.
distressed, troubled, perturbed, disturbed, discomposed, unsettled, disconcerted, discountenanced, dismayed, disquieted, worried, bothered, inconvenienced, anxious, agitated, flustered, ruffled, unnerved, shaken, frightened, alarmed, angered, annoyed, irritated, vexed, irked, fretted, hurt, saddened, grieved
informal cut up, choked
British informal gutted
2ˈʌpsɛt (Of a person’s stomach) having disturbed digestion, especially because of something eaten.
Example sentences
  • Place 1 drop of Peppermint oil in 1/2 glass of water, sip slowly to aid digestion and relieve an upset stomach.
  • The court heard Mr Stones and Miss Collins felt no ill effects but Mr Gill suffered an upset stomach and diarrhoea and headache and had to take a day off work.
  • It costs pennies, and its side effect is an upset stomach.
disordered, disturbed, unsettled, queasy, bad, poorly, ill, sick
informal gippy, holiday



Pronunciation: /ʌpˈsɛtə/


Pronunciation: /ʌpˈsɛtɪŋli/
Example sentences
  • But most upsettingly, it turns out there is a big difference between the aspirations of a party not likely to get in power, and a local party that has real power to change things.
  • The play features a central drama that is intimate yet socially and politically relevant, perhaps upsettingly so.
  • As his hands found the large black book hiding back within the other bindings on the bookshelf, he grew upsettingly perplexed, and Aeslyn darted over to see what was going on.

Words that rhyme with upset

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