1. higher, as in place, position, pitch, or in a scale: the upper stories of a house; the upper register of a singer’s voice.
  2. superior, as in rank, dignity, or station.
  3. (of places) at a higher level, more northerly, or farther from the sea: the upper slopes of a mountain; upper New York State.
  4. (often initial capital letter) Stratigraphy. denoting a later division of a period, system, or the like: the Upper Devonian.


  1. the part of a shoe or boot above the sole, comprising the quarter, vamp, counter, and lining.
  2. an upper berth.
  3. a gaiter made of cloth.Compare gaiter(def 1).
  4. Usually uppers,
    1. an upper dental plate.
    2. an upper tooth.
  5. Informal. the higher of two bunks or berths.


  1. on one’s uppers, Informal. reduced to poverty; without sufficient means: They are on their uppers but manage to hide the fact from their friends.

noun Slang.

  1. a stimulant drug, especially an amphetamine.
  2. a pleasant or elating experience, person, or situation.


  1. higher or highest in relation to physical position, wealth, rank, status, etc
  2. (capital when part of a name) lying farther upstream, inland, or farther norththe upper valley of the Loire
  3. (capital when part of a name) geology archaeol denoting the late part or division of a period, system, formation, etcUpper Palaeolithic
  4. maths (of a limit or bound) greater than or equal to one or more numbers or variables


  1. the higher of two objects, people, etc
  2. the part of a shoe above the sole, covering the upper surface of the foot
  3. on one’s uppers extremely poor; destitute
  4. informal any tooth of the upper jaw
  5. Also called (esp US): up slang any of various drugs having a stimulant or euphoric effectCompare downer

adj.c.1300, originally comparative of up. Cf. Middle Dutch upper, Dutch opper, Low German upper, Norwegian yppare. Noun meaning “part of a shoe above the sole” is recorded from 1789; sense of “stimulant drug” is from 1968. Upper crust is attested from mid-15c. in reference to the top crust of a loaf of bread, 1836 in reference to society. The pugilistic uppercut is first recorded 1842. Upper hand “advantage” is late 15c., probably from wrestling. Upperclassman is recorded from 1871. Upper middle class (adj.) is first recorded 1872.

  1. Being a later or more recent division of the geological or archaeological period named. Compare lower.

In addition to the idioms beginning with upper

  • upper crust
  • upper hand
  • upper story
  • also see:

  • keep a stiff upper lip
  • on one’s uppers
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