I. preposition 1. in extended space over and not touching • a display of fireworks above the town
• a cable runs above the duct.
2. extending upwards over • she held her arms above her head.
3. higher than and to one side of; overlooking • in the hills above the capital
• on the wall above the altar.
4. at a higher level or layer than • from his flat above the corner shop
• bruises above both eyes.
5. higher in grade or rank than • at a level above the common people.
6. considered of higher status or worth than; too good for • she married above her.
7. in preference to • the firm cynically chose profit above car safety.
8. at a higher volume or pitch than • he seldom spoke above a whisper
• the doorbell went unheard above the din.
9. higher than (a specified amount, rate, or norm) • the food was well above average
• above sea level.
II. adverb 1. at a higher level or layer • place a quantity of mud in a jar with water above.
2. higher in grade or rank • an officer of the rank of superintendent or above.
3. higher than a specified amount, rate, or norm • boats of 31 ft or above.
4. (in printed text) mentioned earlier or further up on the same page • the two cases described above
• see above left
• [as adj.]
at the above address
• [as noun]
since writing the above, I have reconsidered.
III. phrases 1. above all (else) more so than anything else • he was concerned above all to speak the truth.
2. above and beyond a. in excess of the expectations or demands of • she was always there to help us out in difficult times, above and beyond the call of duty.
b. in addition to • you might consider giving employees an extra day or two off each quarter, above and beyond sick days.
3. above oneself conceited; arrogant • he’s getting a bit above himself.
4. above the law in a position where one can avoid being bound by the laws that govern ordinary people • the army was above the law and enjoyed complete impunity.
5. from above a. from overhead • branches rained from above.
b. from a position of higher rank or authority • mass culture is imposed from above.
6. not be above be capable of stooping to (an unworthy act) • he was not above practical jokes.
7. up above above one’s head; overhead • we heard a sudden rumbling from up above.
– origin Old English abufan (as an adverb), from a- ‘on’ + bufan (from bi ‘by’ + ufan ‘above’).