WHAT IS 'Upstart'

An upstart is a person who has risen in social rank and/or economic status but who has yet to be accepted by other individuals in his or her newly found social and economic class. Upstart refers to a person who has had a sudden rise to a new class and lacks the social skills and grace that would be appropriate to the new position. It often implies arrogance or presumptuousness.

Upstart is also the name of an online money lending platform founded in 2012 that provides personal loans using non-traditional credit variables, including education and employment status instead of standard credit ratings.


An upstart is a person who has jumped up in social rank or economic class suddenly. For example, an individual could go from the proverbial rags to riches following an inheritance or following a lucky investment in the stock market. The upstart, who has quickly risen in economic status, has yet to learn the social skills necessary to be accepted by other people in his or her new class. Instead of being humbled by this and asking for instruction or attempting to learn, the upstart becomes arrogant and presumptuous, which turns off associates in the new social class. As the upstart is rejected, they often become increasingly arrogant.

Upstart can also describe a person who has suddenly been moved into a position of power or other position of consequence, and is arrogant about the change. As in the case of a person who has suddenly become wealthy, the upstart is uncomfortable with the change in status, and responds by being arrogant and awkward. Especially if the new position requires the upstart to manage or lead people, this change can be disastrous if the upstart does not have the skills needed to do well in the new position, while still having an inflated attitude about being in the new position.

Upstarts as Employees

While an upstart can make for a bad manager, they can make for an even worse employee. As an upstart gains money and position, they are less inclined to self-correct and work as a team player, and more inclined to view their own work more positively than they view others. This can cause a great deal of disharmony and bad feelings in the workplace, as the upstart’s manager and co-workers begin to resent the upstart. If the upstart is unable to correct and restore healthy working relationships, the upstart will fail in the job, even if they have the technical skills to succeed.

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