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on - definition and synonyms

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adverb, preposition     on pronunciation in British English
On can be used in the following ways:
as a preposition: She was lying on the floor.It happened on a hot summer’s day.
as an adverb: Put your clothes on now.When the bus stopped he got on.
after the verb ‘to be’: Is the central heating on?
  1. 1
    touching a surface or an object
    1. a.
      touching and supported by the top surface of something

      Chad was asleep on the floor in a heap of blankets.

      He left a note for you on the kitchen table.

      Who was the first man on the moon?

      Jimmy sat on a high stool with his hands on the table.

    2. b.
      onto a surface

      Alanis dropped her books on the desk.

      We could hear the rain falling on the roof.

    3. c.
      touching, sticking to, or hanging from a surface or object

      There were several interesting posters on the wall.

      He had a lot of blood on his arm.

      The key is hanging on a hook in the hall.

      Evelyn leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.

      What kind of paper was the letter typed on?

      Can you see what’s written on the blackboard?

  2. 2
    used for saying the day or date when something happens

    He’s coming home on Wednesday.

    My birthday is on the 27th of November.

    They met on a rainy day in January.

  3. 3
    used for saying which part of your body is supporting you

    He propped himself up on an elbow and looked me in the eye.

    She gets down on her knees every night and prays for her family.

    Can you skate backwards on one leg?

  4. 4
    in a particular place
    1. a.
      in a particular area, or on a particular type of land

      The house was built on a beautiful piece of land.

      a school on the outskirts of Glasgow

      Wilson spent his childhood on a farm in Ireland.

    2. c.
      at the side of a river or area of water

      a small village on the east coast of Scotland

      a town on the Mississippi

      The hotel stands on the water’s edge just outside Henley.

  5. 5
    included in a list

    The future of the charity will be one of the items on the agenda.

    My name’s not on the list of candidates – why not?

  6. 6
    used for saying which thing a part of your body accidentally hits or touches causing you to be hurt

    I cut my hand on a piece of glass from the broken window.

    She bumped her head really hard on the door.

  7. 7
    used for saying that you are wearing a piece of clothing, jewellery etc, or for saying which part of your body it covers

    Come on, put your socks on, you’ll be late for school.

    She had on a simple silk dress with a pattern of roses.

    She was wearing a ring on the third finger of her left hand.

    You look funny with glasses on.

  8. 8
    if your eyes are on someone or something, you are looking at them

    Hannah fixed her grey eyes on me once again.

    He kept his eyes on the flickering flames.

  9. 9
    happening, or being broadcast
    1. a.
      being broadcast by radio or television

      Eastenders is on TV tonight.

      I usually listen to the news on the radio while I’m driving to work.

      What time is the football match on?

    2. b.
      taking place or happening somewhere

      There’s a wedding on in the church.

  10. 10
    concerning a particular subject

    I have to write a report on the Civil War for homework.

  11. 11
    1. a.
      used for saying that someone is continuing to do something

      They talked on through the night.

      Read on to find out the rest of the story.

      I stayed on after everyone else had left.

      He kept on saying ‘Where are the kids?’ over and over again.

      We can’t go on putting more and more taxpayersmoney into these projects without giving them some results.

    2. b.
      continuing to move forwards

      They walked on beside the river to a cafe they knew.

      When I didn’t know the answer, the teacher kindly moved on to the next student.

  12. 12
    in or into a bus, train, plane etc

    We got on the train at Bournville.

    I’ll get some work done while I’m on the plane.

  13. 13
    using a particular type of machine or equipment
    1. a.
      used for saying which type of machine or equipment is used for doing something

      Much of the work is done on computer.

    2. b.
      used for saying in what form music, films, information etc are recorded

      The film was released on DVD last month.

      I bought the album on tape when it first came out in 1996.

  14. 14
    if a machine or piece of electrical equipment is on, it is in use or working

    Is the heating on? I’m freezing.

    She had left her light on and I went in to turn it off.

    When you turn the computer on, it goes through a procedure called booting.

  15. 15
    used for saying that someone takes part in an activity in which they travel or see something

    He has been going on expeditions since he was eleven years old.

    I’ll take you on a tour of the factory.

    I met him when I was on a Mediterranean cruise.

  16. 17
    if someone is on a team, committee etc, they are a member of it

    There are only three directors on the board.

    Mr Cook was strongly criticized by some of the MPs on the committee.

    I’m glad to have a player like you on our team.

  17. 18
    formal used for saying that an event is followed immediately by another event or that the two events happen at the same time

    On being made aware of complaints, he informed the committee.

  18. 19
    using something to live or work
    1. b.
      using a particular type of fuel or electrical power in order to operate
      run on something:

      Why can’t they make a car that runs on water?

    2. c.
      used for saying how much money you have to buy the things that you need in order to live

      The 1.3 billion who live on less than £1 a day have waited far too long for these changes.

      How to travel around Europe on £40 a day.

  19. 20
    used for saying who or what is affected by something

    The rough weather had little effect on the ship.

    The attacks on Walters in the newspaper have been entirely unfair.

  20. 21
    British used for giving the phone number which you can use to talk to someone. The American word is at

    Call us on 0800 0900017.

  21. 22
    compared with someone or something

    Subscriptions are down by 66,000 on last year and that is a serious situation.

    This would be a significant improvement on the £15 million profit figure achieved last time.

  22. 23
    spoken used for saying who will pay for something

    Drink up! The next round’s on me.

  23. 24
    used for saying that an actor or performer can be seen appearing on the stage or screen

    Wait! She’ll be on in a couple of seconds.

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