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above - Wiktionary


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Alternative forms[edit]


A circle above (sense 2) a square

From Middle English above, aboven, abuven, from Old English ābufan, onbufan from a (“on”) + bufan (“over”), (akin to Icelandic ofan (“from above”), Middle Dutch bōven, Old Frisian bova, Middle High German bobene) from (“by”) + ufan (“over”); also cognate with Danish oven, Dutch boven, German oben, Swedish ovan, Old Saxon oƀan, Old High German obana.

The preposition, adjective and the noun derive from the adverb.




  1. Physically over; on top of; worn on top of, as clothing. [first attested before 1150.]
    He always put his coat on above his sweater.
  2. In or to a higher place; higher than; on or over the upper surface. [first attested before 1150]
    Antonyms: below, beneath
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981, Genesis 1:20:
      And God said, Let the waters bring foorth aboundantly the moving creature that hath life, and foule that may flie above the earth in the open firmament of heauen.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity:
      Then came a maid with hand-bag and shawls, and after her a tall young lady. She stood for a moment holding her skirt above the grimy steps, […] and the light of the reflector fell full upon her.
    • 2013 May-June, William E. Conner, “An Acoustic Arms Race”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 206-7:
      Earless ghost swift moths become “invisible” to echolocating bats by forming mating clusters close (less than half a meter) above vegetation and effectively blending into the clutter of echoes that the bat receives from the leaves and stems around them.
  3. Farther north than. [first attested before 1150]
    Idaho is above Utah.
  4. Rising; appearing out of reach height-wise. [first attested around 1150–1350]
  5. (figuratively) Higher than; superior to in any respect; surpassing; higher in measure, degree, volume, or pitch, etc. than; out of reach; not exposed to; not likely to be affected by; incapable of negative actions or thoughts. [first attested around 1150–1350]
    Even the chief of police is not above suspicion.
    He was always above reproach.
    I thought you said you were above these kinds of antics.
    That's above my comprehension.
    to cut above average
  6. Higher in rank, status, or position. [first attested around 1150–1350]
    to stand head and shoulders above the rest
  7. In addition to; besides. [first attested around 1150–1350]
    above and beyond the call of duty
    over and above
  8. Surpassing in number or quantity; more than. [first attested around 1350–1470]
    That amount is way above our asking price.
  9. In preference to.
  10. Too proud to stoop to; averse to; disinclined towards; (Can we verify(+) this sense?) too honorable to give.
    The owner was above taking more than a token salary.
  11. Beyond; on the other side.
  12. (theater) Upstage of.

Usage notes[edit]

  • (surpassing in number or quantity): passing into the adverbial sense.

Derived terms[edit]

Derived terms


over, on top of in or to a higher place farther north out of reach, heightwise superior to, surpassing higher in rank in addition to more in preference to too proud or averse to upstage of beyond
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
Translations to be checked


above (not comparable)

  1. Directly overhead; vertically on top of. [first attested before 1150.]
    • 2013 May 11, “The climate of Tibet: Pole-land”, in The Economist[1], volume 407, number 8835, page 80:
      Of all the transitions brought about on the Earth’s surface by temperature change, the melting of ice into water is the starkest. It is binary. And for the land beneath, the air above and the life around, it changes everything.
  2. Higher in the same page; earlier in the order as far as writing products go. [first attested before 1150.]
    • (Can we date this quote?), Dryden, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      That was said above.
  3. Into or from heaven; in the sky. [first attested around 1150–1350]
    He's in a better place now, floating free as the clouds above.
  4. In a higher place; upstairs; farther upstream. [first attested around 1150–1350]
  5. Higher in rank, power, or position. [first attested around 1150–1350]
    He appealed to the court above.
  6. (archaic) In addition. [first attested around 1150–1350]
  7. More in number. [first attested around 1350–1470]
  8. Above zero; above freezing. [first attested in the mid 20th century.]
    It was a cold day at only 5 above.
  9. (biology) On the upper half or the dorsal surface of an animal.
    The sparrow I saw was rufous above and off-white below.

Derived terms[edit]

Derived terms


overhead, on top of earlier in order in writing of or in the heavens or sky in a higher place higher in rank archaic: in addition more above freezing on the upper half of the dorsal surface
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
Translations to be checked


above (not comparable)

  1. Of heaven; heavenly. [first attested around (1150 to 1350).]
  2. Being located higher on the same page or on a preceding page. [first attested in the mid 18th century.]

Usage notes[edit]

  • Above is often used elliptically as an adjective by omitting the word said, mentioned, quoted, or the like:
    • the above(-said) observations
    • the above(-cited) reference
    • the above(-quoted) articles


heavenly being located higher on the same page or on a preceding page


above (uncountable)

  1. Heaven. [first attested around 1150–1350]
  2. Something, especially a person's name in legal documents, that appears higher on the same page or on a preceding page.
  3. Higher authority.
  4. (archaic) betterment, raised status or condition.
    • 1896, William Morris, The Well at the World's End:
      Withal they saw of him that he had no doubt but that they should come to their above on the morrow,

Usage notes[edit]

The preposition above is often used further elliptically as a noun by omitting the associated noun, where it is should be clear what is omitted: e.g. See the above.

Related terms[edit]


heaven something mentioned previously in a document higher authority


  • Andrea Tyler and Vyvyan Evans, "The vertical axis", in The Semantics of English Prepositions: Spatial Scenes, Embodied Meaning and Cognition, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 0-521-81430 8
  • Laurence Urdang (editor), The Random House College Dictionary (Random House, 1984 [1975], →ISBN), page 4
  • Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 [1998], →ISBN), page 4
  • above in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • above at OneLook Dictionary Search
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