from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • prep. Used to indicate position above and supported by or in contact with: The vase is on the table. We rested on our hands and knees.
  • prep. Used to indicate contact with or extent over (a surface) regardless of position: a picture on the wall; a rash on my back.
  • prep. Used to indicate location at or along: the pasture on the south side of the river; a house on the highway.
  • prep. Used to indicate proximity: a town on the border.
  • prep. Used to indicate attachment to or suspension from: beads on a string.
  • prep. Used to indicate figurative or abstract position: on the young side, but experienced; on her third beer; stopped on chapter two.
  • prep. Used to indicate actual motion toward, against, or onto: jumped on the table; the march on Washington.
  • prep. Used to indicate figurative or abstract motion toward, against, or onto: going on six o'clock; came on the answer by accident.
  • prep. Used to indicate occurrence at a given time: on July third; every hour on the hour.
  • prep. Used to indicate the particular occasion or circumstance: On entering the room, she saw him.
  • prep. Used to indicate the object affected by actual, perceptible action: The spotlight fell on the actress. He knocked on the door.
  • prep. Used to indicate the object affected by a figurative action: Have pity on them.
  • prep. Used to indicate the object of an action directed, tending, or moving against it: an attack on the fortress.
  • prep. Used to indicate the object of perception or thought: gazed on the vista; meditated on his actions.
  • prep. Used to indicate the agent or agency of a specified action: cut his foot on the broken glass; talked on the telephone.
  • prep. Used to indicate a medicine or other corrective taken or undertaken routinely: went on a strict diet.
  • prep. Used to indicate a substance that is the cause of an addiction, a habit, or an altered state of consciousness: high on dope.
  • prep. Used to indicate a source or basis: "We will reach our judgments not on intentions or on promises but on deeds and on results” ( Margaret Thatcher).
  • prep. Used to indicate a source of power or energy: The car runs on methane.
  • prep. Used to indicate the state or process of: on leave; on fire; on the way.
  • prep. Used to indicate the purpose of: travel on business.
  • prep. Used to indicate a means of conveyance: ride on a train.
  • prep. Used to indicate availability by means of: beer on tap; a physician on call.
  • prep. Used to indicate belonging to: a nurse on the hospital staff.
  • prep. Used to indicate addition or repetition: heaped error on error.
  • prep. Concerning; about: a book on astronomy.
  • prep. Concerning and to the disadvantage of: We have some evidence on him.
  • prep. Informal In one's possession; with: I haven't a cent on me.
  • prep. At the expense of; compliments of: drinks on the house.
  • adv. In or into a position or condition of being supported by or in contact with something: Put the coffee on.
  • adv. In or into a position of being attached to or covering something: Put your clothes on.
  • adv. In the direction of something: He looked on while the ship docked.
  • adv. Toward or at a point lying ahead in space or time; forward: The play moved on to the next city.
  • adv. At or to a more distant point in time or space: I'll do it later on.
  • adv. In a continuous course: He worked on quietly.
  • adv. In or into performance or operation: Turn on the radio.
  • adv. In progress or action; in a state of activity: The show must go on.
  • adv. In or at the present position or condition: stay on; hang on.
  • adv. In a condition of being scheduled for or decided upon: There is a party on tonight.
  • adj. Being in operation: The television is on.
  • adj. Engaged in a given function or activity, such as a vocal or dramatic role: You're on in five minutes!
  • adj. Under or behaving as if under observation: A minister is always on.
  • adj. Informal Functioning or performing at a high degree of competence or energy: The goalie is really on.
  • adj. Planned; intended: We have nothing much on for this weekend.
  • adj. Happening; taking place: The parade is on.
  • adj. Baseball Having reached base safely; on base: Two runners are on.
  • idiom be on to Slang To be aware of or have information about: You'll never deceive us again; we're on to you.
  • idiom on and off Intermittently.
  • idiom on and on Without stopping; continuously.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. In the state of being active, functioning or operating.
  • adj. Performing according to schedule.
  • adj. Acceptable, appropriate.
  • adj. Destined, normally in the context of a challenge being accepted; involved, doomed.
  • adj. Having reached a base as a runner and being positioned there, awaiting further action from a subsequent batter.
  • adv. To an operating state.
  • adv. Along, forwards (continuing an action).
  • adv. In continuation, at length.
  • adv. In, or towards the half of the field on the same side as the batsman's legs; the left side for a right-handed batsman; leg.
  • adv. Later.
  • prep. Positioned at the upper surface of, touching from above.
  • prep. Covering.
  • prep. At the date of.
  • prep. Some time during the day of.
  • prep. Dealing with the subject of, about, or concerning something.
  • prep. Touching; hanging from.
  • prep. In the possession of.
  • prep. Because of, or due to.
  • prep. Immediately after.
  • prep. Paid for by.
  • prep. Used to indicate a means or medium.
  • prep. Indicating a means of subsistence.
  • prep. Away or occupied with (e.g. a scheduled activity).
  • prep. Regularly taking (a drug).
  • prep. Having identical domain and codomain.
  • prep. Having as domain and V as codomain, for some set V and integer n.
  • prep. Generated by.
  • prep. Supported by (the specified part of itself).
  • prep. At a given time after the start of something; at.
  • prep. Without.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. Forward, in progression; onward; -- usually with a verb of motion
  • adv. Forward, in succession.
  • adv. In continuance; without interruption or ceasing
  • adv. Adhering; not off; as in the phrase, “He is neither on nor off,” that is, he is not steady, he is irresolute.
  • adv. Attached to the body, as clothing or ornament, or for use.
  • adv. In progress; proceeding; ongoing.
  • prep. The general signification of on is situation, motion, or condition with respect to contact or support beneath.
  • prep. At, or in contact with, the surface or upper part of a thing, and supported by it; placed or lying in contact with the surface.
  • prep. To or against the surface of; -- used to indicate the motion of a thing as coming or falling to the surface of another.
  • prep. Denoting performance or action by contact with the surface, upper part, or outside of anything; hence, by means of; with. .
  • prep. At or near; adjacent to; -- indicating situation, place, or position
  • prep. In addition to; besides; -- indicating multiplication or succession in a series
  • prep. Indicating dependence or reliance; with confidence in; ; hence, indicating the ground or support of anything.
  • prep. At or in the time of; during. See At (synonym).
  • prep. At the time of; -- often conveying some notion of cause or motive.
  • prep. Toward; for; -- indicating the object of some passion.
  • prep. At the peril of, or for the safety of.
  • prep. By virtue of; with the pledge of; -- denoting a pledge or engagement, and put before the thing pledged.
  • prep. To the account of; -- denoting imprecation or invocation, or coming to, falling, or resting upon
  • prep. In reference or relation to
  • prep. Of.
  • prep. Occupied with; in the performance of
  • prep. In the service of; connected with; a member of
  • prep. In reference to; about; concerning.
  • intransitive v.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • As used of place or position with regard to the upper and external part of something:
  • In such a position as to be supported, upheld, or borne by; with the support of; by means of: as, to go on wheels, on runners, or on all fours; to hang on a nail.
  • Noting the goal or terminal point to which some motion or action expressed by an intransitive verb is or has been directed and in which it rests: as, to dote on her child; to look on his face; to insist on a settlement; to resolve on a course of action; to live on an income; to dwell on a subject.
  • Noting the object to, for, or against which, or by virtue or on the strength of which, some action or operation is directed, performed, or carried out: as, to spend money on finery; to have compassion on the poor; to prove a charge on (that is, against) a man; to bet on one's success; to make war on Russia.
  • About; concerning; in regard to; on the subject of: as, Pope's “Essay on Criticism”; a sermon on Death; to agree on a plan of operations; to tell tales on a person.
  • Noting the instrument with or by which some action is performed: as, to play on the piano; to swear on the Bible.
  • Noting the ground, basis, motive, method, reason, or reliance of or for some action: as, on certain terms or conditions; on a promise of secrecy; on purpose; on parol; hence, as used in asseverations and oaths, by: as, on the word of a gentleman; on my honor.
  • In betting, in support of the chances of; on the side of: as, I bet on the red against the black. Hence. to be on, to have made a bet or bets; to be well on, to have laid bets so as to stand a good chance of winning.
  • As used of position with reference to external surface or to surface in general:
  • Fastened to or suspended from: as, he wears a seal on is watch-chain.
  • In a position of being attached to or forming part of: as, he was on the staff or on the committee.
  • As used of relative position:
  • In the precise direction of; exactly conforming to or agreeing with: as, on the line; on the bull's eye; on the key (in music).
  • To; toward; in the general direction of.
  • After: with follow.
  • After and in consequence of; from, as a cause: as, on this we separated.
  • At the time of: expressing occurrence in time: as, he arrived on Wednesday; on the evening before the battle; on public occasions.
  • In addition to: as, heaps on heaps; loss on loss.
  • In, to, or into a state or condition of: as, ale on tap (that is, ready to be drawn); to set a house on fire; all on a heap (that is, heaped up). Compare asleep, afire, etc., where a- was originally on.
  • In the act or process of; occupied with: as, on the march; on duty; on one's guard. Compare a-fishing, a-hunting, where a- was originally on.
  • In; into: in various uses now generally expressed by in or into: as, to break on pieces; to cleave on two parts; to read or write on book.
  • Over.
  • To.
  • At.
  • With.
  • For.
  • From.
  • By.
  • Of.
  • Synonyms On, Upon. These words are in many uses identical in force, but upon is by origin (up + on) and in use more distinctly expressive of motion to the object from above or from the side. On has the same force, but is so widely used in other ways, and so often expresses mere rest, that it is felt by careful writers to be inadequate to the uses for which upon is preferred.
  • In or into a position in contact with and supported by the top or upper part of something; up: as, keep your hat on; he stopped a street-car, and got on.
  • In or into place, as a garment or other covering, or an ornament: as, to pull on one's clothes; to put on one's boots; to try on a hat.
  • In or into place or position for use or action: as, to bring on the fruit or the coffee; specifically, into position on a stage or platform, before the footlights or an audience.
  • In or into movement or action; in or into a condition of activity from a state of confinement or restraint: as, to turn on the gas; to bring on a fit of coughing; to bring on a contest.
  • In operation; in progress: as, the auction is going on; the debate is on.
  • In the same place or position; without yielding: as, to hang, stick, or hold on.
  • To or at something serving as an object of observation: as, to look on without taking part; to be a mere looker-on.
  • Forth; forward; onward; ahead: as, move on; pass on.
  • In the same course or direction: as, go straight on (that is, in continuance of some action, operation, or relation that has been begun); in regular continuance or sequence: as, go, write, say, laugh, keep on; go on with your story; how long will you keep on trifling? from father to son, from son to grandson, and so on.
  • In advance; forward; in the sequel.
  • In the direction of progress, advancement, achievement, or attainment: as, to get on in the world; to be well on in one's courtship.
  • Toward; so as to approach; near; nigh.
  • Alternately away from and toward the shore: said of a ship: as, to stand off and on.
  • See the verbs.
  • In cricket, noting that part of the field to the left of a right-handed batter and to the right of the bowler: the opposite of off.
  • n. In cricket, that part of the field to the right of the bowler and to the left of the batter.
  • Without: usually followed by a perfect participle with being or having (which may be omitted): as, could na ye mind, on being tauld sa aften?
  • A prefix of Anglo-Saxon origin, being the preposition or adverb on used as a prefix, with its usual meanings. See examples below.
  • An obsolete form of the prefix an- as in answer, etc.
  • An obsolete or dialectal form of the negative prefix un-.
  • An obsolete or dialectal form of the prefix un- before verbs.
  • In coal-mining, in a direction parallel to the main cleavage-planes or -joints of a coal-seam, and at right angles to the end-joints.
  • An abbreviation of Old Norse.
  • An abbreviation of Old Northern French.
  • n. An obsolete form of one.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. in operation or operational
  • adv. indicates continuity or persistence or concentration
  • adj. (of events) planned or scheduled
  • adv. with a forward motion
  • adv. in a state required for something to function or be effective


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old English an, on; see an- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English on, from Old English on, an ("on, upon, onto, in, into"), from Proto-Germanic *ana (“on, at”), from Proto-Indo-European *ano-, *nō- (“on”). Cognate with North Frisian a ("on, in"), Dutch aan ("on, at, to"), Low German an ("on, at"), German an ("to, at, on"), Swedish å ("on, at, in"), Faroese á ("on, onto, in, at"), Icelandic á ("on, in"), Gothic 𐌰𐌽𐌰 (ana), Ancient Greek ἀνά (ana, "up, upon"), Albanian  ("in"); and from the Old Norse combination upp á: Danish , Swedish , Norwegian , see upon.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old Norse ón, án ("without"), from Proto-Germanic *ēnu, *ēno, *ino (“without”), from Proto-Indo-European *anew, *enew (“without”). Cognate with North Frisian on ("without"), Middle Dutch an, on ("without"), Middle Low German āne ("without"), German ohne ("without"), Gothic  (inu, "without, except"), Ancient Greek ἄνευ (áneu, "without").


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  • Cricket jargon - the side of the field closest to the batsman's body.

    November 29, 2007