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preposition \ˈbī, before consonants also bə\

Simple Definition of by

  • : close to or next to (something or someone)

  • : up to and beyond (something or someone)

  • : at or to (someone's home)

Full Definition of by

  1. 1 :  in proximity to :  near <standing by the window>

  2. 2 a :  through or through the medium of :  via <enter by the door> b :  in the direction of :  toward <north by east> c :  into the vicinity of and beyond :  past <went right by him>

  3. 3 a :  during the course of <studied by night> b :  not later than <by 2 p.m.>

  4. 4 a :  through the agency or instrumentality of <by force> b :  born or begot of c :  sired or borne by

  5. 5 :  with the witness or sanction of <swear by all that is holy>

  6. 6 a :  in conformity with <acted by the rules> b :  according to <called her by name>

  7. 7 a :  on behalf of <did right by his children> b :  with respect to <a lawyer by profession>

  8. 8 a :  in or to the amount or extent of <win by a nose> b chiefly Scottish :  in comparison with :  beside

  9. 9 —used as a function word to indicate successive units or increments <little by little> <walk two by two>

  10. 10 —used as a function word in multiplication, in division, and in measurements <divide a by b> <multiply 10 by 4> <a room 15 feet by 20 feet>

  11. 11 :  in the opinion of :  from the point of view of <okay by me>

by the by or by the bye

Examples of by

  1. His wife was sitting by him.

  2. They have a house by the lake.

  3. The bus went right by him without stopping.

  4. Some friends stopped by our house for a chat.

  5. Why don't you come by my place later?

Origin of by

Middle English, preposition & adverb, from Old English, preposition, be, bī; akin to Old High German by, near, Latin ambi- on both sides, around, Greek amphi

First Known Use: before 12th century

Rhymes with by



adverb \ˈbī\

Simple Definition of by

  • —used with put to describe something that is being kept or saved for a future use

  • : at or to someone's home

  • : close or near

Full Definition of by

  1. 1 a :  close at hand :  near b :  at or to another's home <stop by>

  2. 2 :  past <saw him go by>

  3. 3 :  aside, away

Examples of by

  1. The bus went right by without stopping.

  2. We stood and applauded as the parade went by.

  3. Why don't you come by later?

Before 12th Century

First Known Use of by

before 12th century



adjective \ˈbī\

Definition of by

  1. 1 :  being off the main route :  side

  2. 2 :  incidental

14th Century

First Known Use of by

14th century

Variants of by

or bye play \ˈbī\



noun \ˈbī\

Definition of by

plural byes play \ˈbīz\

  1. :  something of secondary importance :  a side issue


First Known Use of by


Variants of by

or bye play \ˈbī\



interjection \ˈbī\

Definition of by

  1. —used to express farewell ; often used with following now

Variants of by

or bye play \ˈbī\

Origin of by

short for goodbye

First Known Use: 1709

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February 9, 2016

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