Note: Our Sixth Annual 15-Second Vocabulary Video Challenge is underway. It will run until Feb. 18.
upstage ˈəp-ˈstāj adverb, verb, noun and adjective
adverb: at or toward the rear of the stage
verb: steal the show, draw attention to oneself away from someone else
verb: move upstage, forcing the other actors to turn away from the audience
verb: treat snobbishly, put in one’s place
noun: the rear part of the stage
adjective: of the back half of a stage
adjective: remote in manner
The word upstage has appeared in 100 articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Oct. 11 in “‘The Haunting of Hill House,’ on Netflix, Is a Family Drama With Scares” by Jason Zinoman:
Shirley Jackson was a writer who understood that good scares come to those who wait, but she also knew how to get to the point.
Her classic 1959 novella “The Haunting of Hill House” begins with the greatest opening paragraph in the history of horror, describing the doomed mansion from the title, curiously, as insane, before ending with this ominous phrase: “whatever walked there, walked alone.”
…. Jan De Bont’s 1999 remake, also titled “The Haunting,” indulged in computer-generated effects, which partly accounts for its critically reviled reputation. But the movie makes a credible argument for the scariest element of Jackson’s story: Hill House itself. De Bont painstakingly lingers on its creepy statues, iron gates and precarious spiral staircase, and the ornate and wonderfully eccentric design upstages the actors in almost every scene.