Definition of on preposition from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ɒn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ɑːn//
    , NAmE//ɔːn//
    For the special uses of on in phrasal verbs, look at the entries for the verbs. For example turn on somebody is in the phrasal verb section at turn.
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  1. 1  in or into a position covering, touching or forming part of a surface a picture on a wall There's a mark on your skirt. the diagram on page 5 Put it down on the table. He had been hit on the head. She climbed on to the bed. This could also be written:onto the bed
  2. 2  supported by somebody/something She was standing on one foot. Try lying on your back. Hang your coat on that hook.
  3. 3  used to show a means of transport He was on the plane from New York. to travel on the bus/tube/coach I came on my bike. a woman on horseback
  4. 4  used to show a day or date He came on Sunday. We meet on Tuesdays. on May the first/the first of May on the evening of May the first on one occasion on your birthday
  5. 5  immediately after something On arriving home I discovered they had gone. Please report to reception on arrival. There was a letter waiting for him on his return.
  6. 6  about something/somebody a book on South Africa She tested us on irregular verbs.
  7. 7being carried by somebody; in the possession of somebody Have you got any money on you?
  8. 8  used to show that somebody belongs to a group or an organization to be on the committee/staff/jury/panel Whose side are you on (= which of two or more different views do you support)?
  9. 9  eating or drinking something; using a drug or a medicine regularly He lived on a diet of junk food. The doctor put me on antibiotics.
  10. 10  used to show direction on the left/right He turned his back on us.
  11. 11  at or near a place a town on the coast a house on the Thames We lived on an estate.
  12. 12  used to show the basis or reason for something a story based on fact On their advice I applied for the job.
  13. 13  paid for by something to live on a pension/a student grant to be on a low wage You can't feed a family on £50 a week. Drinks are on me (= I am paying).
  14. 14  by means of something; using something She played a tune on her guitar. The information is available on the Internet. We spoke on the phone. What's on TV? The programme's on Channel 4.
  15. 15  used with some nouns or adjectives to say who or what is affected by something a ban on smoking He's hard on his kids. Go easy on the mayo! (= do not take/give me too much)
  16. 16compared with somebody/something Sales are up on last year.
  17. 17  used to describe an activity or a state to be on business/holiday/vacation The book is currently on loan.
  18. 18  used when giving a telephone number You can get me on 020 7946 0887. She's on extension 2401.
  19. Word OriginOld English on, an, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aan and German an, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek ana.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: on