Basic+ Word of the Day: upon

upon (preposition) LISTEN

"Once upon a time..."

Upon means ‘up and on.’

  • "Climb upon my lap and I'll tell you a story."
  • Jane placed a cherry upon her cake.

Upon also means ‘on the occasion of.”

  • Upon hearing that she would become a grandmother, Barbara started knitting a blanket.
  • Upon arrival in class, please sit down quietly and read your assignment.

Upon can also mean ‘near in time or space.’

  • The beginning of the school year is upon us.
  • The pickpocket was upon the tourist before he saw her.

Common uses

Once upon a time is the beginning of many fairy tales. It is a signal to the reader (young children, especially) that the story did not really happen.

take upon yourself: take responsibility to do something. Example: “Andrew took it upon himself to do the gardening.”

In pop culture

Watch Coldplay’s music video of their song “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face.” Does this song put a smile upon your face?

There are other meanings of upon.
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