From Middle English upstarten, upsterten, equivalent to up- +‎ start.


upstart (plural upstarts)

  1. One who has suddenly gained wealth, power, or other prominence, but either has not received social acceptance or has become arrogant or presumptuous.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Francis Bacon to this entry?)
    • 1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], chapter XVIII, in Emma: A Novel. In Three Volumes, volume II, London: Printed [by Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, OCLC 1708336, page 345:
      [S]he has no fair pretence of family or blood. She was nobody when he married her, barely the daughter of a gentleman; but ever since her being turned into a Churchill she has out-Churchill’d them all in high and mighty claims: but in herself, I assure you, she is an upstart.”
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 1, in Internal Combustion[1]:
      But electric vehicles and the batteries that made them run became ensnared in corporate scandals, fraud, and monopolistic corruption that shook the confidence of the nation and inspired automotive upstarts.
    • 2012 June 29, Kevin Mitchell, “Roger Federer back from Wimbledon 2012 brink to beat Julien Benneteau”, in The Guardian[2], archived from the original on 15 November 2016:
      Where the Czech upstart [Lukáš] Rosol, ranked 100 in the world, all but blew [Rafael] Nadal's head off with his blunderbuss in a fifth set of unrivalled intensity on Thursday night, [Julien] Benneteau, a more artful citizen, used a rapier to hurt his vaunted foe before falling just short of a kill. In the end, it was he who staggered from the scene of the fight.
  2. The meadow saffron.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dr. Prior to this entry?)




upstart (comparative more upstart, superlative most upstart)

  1. Acting like a parvenu.
  2. self-important and presumptuous.



upstart (third-person singular simple present upstarts, present participle upstarting, simple past and past participle upstarted)

  1. to rise suddenly, to spring
    Th' Elfe therewith astownd,
    Upstarted lightly from his looser make,
    And his unready weapons gan in hand to take.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Tennyson to this entry?)