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English definition of “on”

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preposition, adverb [not gradable]  /ɔn, ɑn/ us  

on preposition, adverb [not gradable] (SUPPORTED BY)

supported by or resting at the top of another thing: There is snow on the ground. You put pudding in the pie crust and then put whipped cream on.


preposition, adjective, adverb [not gradable]  /ɔn, ɑn/ us  

on preposition, adjective, adverb [not gradable] (ATTACHED TO)

attached to or forming a part of another thing: Read the instructions on the bag. Hang your coat on that hook. Don’t screw the lid on so tight.

on preposition, adjective, adverb [not gradable] (COVERING)

covering or wrapping another thing: The child had no shoes on her feet. You should put a coat on. The baby’s got nothing on (= is not wearing anything).

on preposition, adjective, adverb [not gradable] (BROADCAST)

being broadcast: What’s on TV tonight? I wish there were more jazz on the radio.

on preposition, adjective, adverb [not gradable] (TRAVEL BY)

used to show a method of travel; via : It’s easy to get to the beach on foot. Two people rode by on horseback. On is also sometimes used to show you are getting in a vehicle: It’s time to get on the bus.


preposition  /ɔn, ɑn/ us  

on preposition (AT)

at, near, or next to a particular place, thing, or person: They live on Carlisle Street. Which page is that cheesecake recipe on? El Paso is on the Mexican border. Princess Caroline was seated on my left.

on preposition (STORED AS)

used to show the form in which information is stored or recorded for use with an electronic device: How much data can you store on your hard disk? That movie just came out on video.

on preposition (USING)

showing what tool, instrument, system, etc., is used to do or achieve something: I made this chart on my computer. I’m on the telephone. You’ll cut yourself on that knife if you’re not careful.

on preposition (TAKING)

showing that a drug is taken or used: My doctor put me on antibiotics.

on preposition (NEEDING HELP FROM)

used after some verbs and adjectives to show that help is needed from a person or thing: We’re counting on you to drive us to the airport.

on preposition (EXISTING)

used to show that a condition or process exists or is being experienced: The musicians are on strike. Are winter coats on sale?

on preposition (INVOLVED IN)

involved in or doing a particular thing: I’m working on a new book. She’s on a diet. On is also used to show that someone is doing something he or she was chosen to do: There was a guard on duty.

on preposition (CONNECTED WITH)

connected with or part of a group or process: Have you ever served on a jury? There are two women on the committee.

on preposition (ABOUT)

about or having something as a subject: Did you see that documentary on volcanoes last night? Sarita’s thesis is on George Crumb.

on preposition (PAYING FOR)

showing that something is paid for or how something is paid for: I’ve wasted a lot of money on this car. Lunch is on me.

on preposition (WHEN)

used to show when something happens: What are you doing on Friday? My birthday’s on May 30th. The flight arrived on time (= at the time it was expected).

on preposition (COMPARED WITH)

used to make a comparison: This week’s sales figures are down on last week’s. He’s got two inches on me (= is two inches taller).

on preposition (HAVING AN EFFECT)

used to show that something has happened to someone: Marty is always playing jokes on people. My car broke down on me this morning.

on preposition (POSSESSING)

possessing, carrying, or having something with you now: Do you have any money on you? I don’t have my driver’s license on me.


adverb [not gradable]  /ɔn, ɑn/ us  

on adverb [not gradable] (NOT STOPPING)

continuing or not stopping: If her line’s busy, keep on trying.

on adverb [not gradable] (TOWARD)

toward or to something or someone: You go on and I’ll meet you at the lake. Pass the newsletter on to Emily.


adjective, adverb [not gradable]  /ɔn, ɑn/ us  

on adjective, adverb [not gradable] (OPERATING)

operating or made to start operating: Would you turn the TV on? The electricity hasn’t been turned back on yet. infml Someone who is on is either performing very well or is in a situation where the person must be aware of everything that is happening and be ready to act: Andy was really on last night – I haven’t heard him sing like that in months.


adjective [not gradable]  /ɔn, ɑn/ us  

on adjective [not gradable] (HAPPENING)

happening or planned: I have nothing on for tomorrow. Is the party still on?
(Definition of on from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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