While copy-editing an article for a journal, I came across the word “upgradation” underlined red by MS Word (It's underlined red even as I type it in Chrome).

The publishers of the journal recommend following the Oxford dictionary. Now, strangely one of Oxford's sites returns 'No results found for “upgradation”' on searching, while another defines it as 'the fact of upgrading something'.

The Cambridge dictionary site also has an entry for the word.

Both, Oxford Learner's Dictionary's site and the Cambridge Dictionary's site are complete with US as well as British pronunciations. As far as I know the word is very much in use at least in Indian English.

I am unable to make sense out of these findings. Please share if you have any idea why there is such a predicament over “upgradation”.

  • 8
    I've (native American English speaker) never heard of it until now.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 16:20
  • 9
    I'm not sure what kind of answer you expect. Some "words" are more "marginal" than others. Not all dictionaries (or native speakers in general) will accept upgradation as a valid word, obviously. FWIW, OED defines it as Indian English - the raising or improvement of grade, status, or level; = upgrading, with first citation 1979. But it would probably be considered just a "mistake" by most non-IE speakers. Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 16:21
  • 1
    What Telastyn and FumbleF said! In addition, upgradation is, well, ugly -- sounds awful. Consider avoiding it altogether. (Just one opinion.)
    – Drew
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 16:34
  • 3
    Rather than asking “Upgradation not universally accepted?” perhaps you should have asked “Upgradation not universally condemned?” Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 16:47
  • 4
    You say that 'The publishers of the journal recommend following the Oxford dictionary.' I doubt this very strongly; they are doubtless aware that Oxford University Press publishes various dictionaries. That they contain different sets of words is hardly surprising: some dictionaries are more comprehensive than others. I'm pretty sure that the correct statement should be 'The publishers of the journal recommend following the Oxford English Dictionary.' If OED marks the word as 'Indian English', it should not be used in a journal aimed at other readers. Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 18:04

3 Answers 3


It is a word that has become established in one variety of English (Indian) but is more or less unknown in other dialects of English. That is really all that can be said.

  • 1
    Yes, I agree. as far as I know, many speakers or writers from India would say or write 'upgradation of facilities", while most other speakers/writers from around the world (including those from USA and UK) would use "upgrading of facilities".
    – user97573
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 5:18
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    and it's hardly Queen's English. Just like using the word "doubt" as a noun when one should use the word "question".
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 12:46
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    No, jwenting. Since these uses of "doubt" and "upgradation" appear to be normal parts of Indian English, there is no "should" about it. This is an international site.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 0:19
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    @jwenting Almost nothing is the ‘Queen’s English’ anymore. Even the Queen herself no longer speaks the ‘Queen’s English’. Comparing a word specific to Indian English to an all but extinct variety of English that was never more than a sociolect spoken by a very small elite borders on the nonsensical. Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 17:02

It's an informal word created by informal English users who collectively influence large group of users/people. Most of these words originated from India (eg. upgradation, updation). Basically, it is used by English users (Indians) confidently thus influencing the other non-familiar English user that it is a formal word. With India's population these words had become common through the years. Nevertheless, these words are not formally acceptable to native English users.

  • 6
    To a native English speaker, all this sounds like some form of pidgin English generated by non-native speakers.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 16:39

That's an Indian-English word. Indian English has a life of its own. I would avoid using the word as well as other features of Indian English grammar ( e.g. I am wanting to sleep)

  • 2
    There is no reason to avoid using Indian English words or constructions if your audience is Indian English-speaking. You might as well advice someone to avoid using words like lorry or harvestman. Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 17:00
  • @JanusBahsJacquet There is no reason to avoid using pidgin/incorrect/just plain awful English? Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 5:50
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    @FaheemMitha There is no reason to avoid pidgin features if your audience is itself pidgin, no. I wouldn’t call Indian English pidgin, though—it’s a group of English dialects influenced by various other substrate languages, just like Hibernian English is. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 7:12
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    @Faheem Try learning a bit about how languages actually work, then come back. Your comments here are extremely ignorant of language development and evolution. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:25
  • 1
    @Faheem But this isn’t just about India. This is how language works everywhere in the world. All languages and their varieties, no matter where on the planet, are founded upon “laziness and ignorance of correct [language]”. That’s how languages evolve. This example may be Indian, but the principle is universal. (My apologies for coming across rather harsh before—I hadn’t seen your edit to “excuse bile” and thought you were calling my comment bile, which rather riled me. I just saw the edit now, which makes it rather different. Sorry about that.) Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:53

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