On prep. The general signification of on is situation, motion, or condition with respect to contact or support beneath; as: --
1. At, or in contact with, the surface or upper part of a thing, and supported by it; placed or lying in contact with the surface; as, the book lies on the table, which stands on the floor of a house on an island.
I stood on the bridge at midnight. --Longfellow.
2. To or against the surface of; -- used to indicate the motion of a thing as coming or falling to the surface of another; as, rain falls on the earth.
Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken. --Matt. xxi. 44.
3. Denoting performance or action by contact with the surface, upper part, or outside of anything; hence, by means of; with; as, to play on a violin or piano. Hence, figuratively, to work on one's feelings; to make an impression on the mind.
4. At or near; adjacent to; -- indicating situation, place, or position; as, on the one hand, on the other hand; the fleet is on the American coast.
5. In addition to; besides; -- indicating multiplication or succession in a series; as, heaps on heaps; mischief on mischief; loss on loss; thought on thought.
6. Indicating dependence or reliance; with confidence in; as, to depend on a person for assistance; to rely on; hence, indicating the ground or support of anything; as, he will promise on certain conditions; to bet on a horse; based on certain assumptions.
7. At or in the time of; during; as, on Sunday we abstain from labor. See At (synonym).
8. At the time of; -- often conveying some notion of cause or motive; as, on public occasions, the officers appear in full dress or uniform; the shop is closed on Sundays. Hence, in consequence of, or following; as, on the ratification of the treaty, the armies were disbanded; start on the count of three.
9. Toward; for; -- indicating the object of some passion; as, have pity or compassion on him.
10. At the peril of, or for the safety of. “Hence, on thy life.”
11. By virtue of; with the pledge of; -- denoting a pledge or engagement, and put before the thing pledged; as, he affirmed or promised on his word, or on his honor.
12. To the account of; -- denoting imprecation or invocation, or coming to, falling, or resting upon; as, on us be all the blame; a curse on him.
His blood be on us and on our children. --Matt. xxvii. 25.
13. In reference or relation to; as, on our part expect punctuality; a satire on society.
14. Of. [Obs.] “Be not jealous on me.”
Or have we eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner? --Shak.
Note: ☞ Instances of this usage are common in our older writers, and are sometimes now heard in illiterate speech.
15. Occupied with; in the performance of; as, only three officers are on duty; on a journey; on the job; on an assignment; on a case; on the alert.
16. In the service of; connected with; a member of; as, he is on a newspaper; on a committee.
Note: ☞ On and upon are in general interchangeable. In some applications upon is more euphonious, and is therefore to be preferred; but in most cases on is preferable.
On a bowline. Naut. Same as Closehauled.
On a wind, or On the wind Naut., sailing closehauled.
On a sudden. See under Sudden.
On board, On draught, On fire, etc. See under Board, Draught, Fire, etc.
On it, On't, of it. [Obs. or Colloq.] --Shak.
On shore, on land; to the shore.
On the road, On the way, On the wing, etc. See under Road, Way, etc.
On to, upon; on; to; -- sometimes written as one word, onto, and usually called a colloquialism; but it may be regarded in analogy with into.
They have added the -en plural form on to an elder plural. --Earle.
We see the strength of the new movement in the new class of ecclesiastics whom it forced on to the stage. --J. R. Green.
Sud·den, n. An unexpected occurrence; a surprise.
All of a sudden, On a sudden, Of a sudden, sooner than was expected; without the usual preparation; suddenly.
How art thou lost! how on a sudden lost! --Milton.
He withdrew his opposition all of a sudden. --Thackeray.