before

adverb or adjective
be·​fore | \ bi-ˈfȯr How to pronounce before (audio) , bē- \

Definition of before

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : in advance : ahead marching on before
2 : at an earlier time the night before knew her before

before

preposition

Definition of before (Entry 2 of 3)

1a(1) : forward of : in front of stood before the fire
(2) : in the presence of speaking before the conference
b : under the jurisdiction or consideration of the case before the court
c(1) : at the disposal of the great sums placed before him
(2) : in store for got the whole summer before you
2 : preceding in time : earlier than just before noon
3 : in a higher or more important position than put quantity before quality

before

conjunction

Definition of before (Entry 3 of 3)

1a(1) : earlier than the time that call me before you go
(2) : sooner or quicker than I'll be done before you know it
(3) : so that … do not get out of there before you get dirty
b : until the time that miles to go before I sleep— Robert Frost
c(1) : or else … not must be convicted before he can be removed from office
(2) : or else get out of here before I call a cop
2 : rather or sooner than would starve before he'd steal

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Synonyms & Antonyms for before

Synonyms: Adverb or adjective

Synonyms: Preposition

Antonyms: Adverb or adjective

Antonyms: Preposition

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Examples of before in a Sentence

Preposition We arrived shortly before six o'clock. He left just before sunrise. I've never seen her so happy before now. Call me before your arrival. She arrived the day before yesterday. Why haven't you ever helped me before now? Your name is listed before mine. You'll see my house just before the bank and after the school. The Great Plains stretched endlessly before them. The championship fight took place before a crowd of thousands. Conjunction He left long before morning came. Say goodbye before you go. Call me before you arrive. I finished the exam before he did. It was not long before he arrived.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb or adjective The increase in thickness might indicate that some of the lenses will be thicker than before if not all of them. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "iPhone 13 Pro Max leak points to major camera upgrades," 16 Apr. 2021 For one, Iran responded by announcing it would increase uranium enrichment to 60% purity — far higher than ever before — and install more advanced centrifuges at the Natanz facility. Fox News, "What are the Iran nuclear talks about?," 15 Apr. 2021 And yet that nagging voice of doubt came back again, this time stronger than before. Natasha S. Alford, Vogue, "Black, High-Risk, and Expecting. How I Advocated for Myself, and My Pandemic Pregnancy," 15 Apr. 2021 For one, Iran responded by announcing it would increase uranium enrichment to 60% purity — far higher than ever before — and install more advanced centrifuges at the Natanz facility. David Rising, Star Tribune, "EXPLAINER: What are the Iran nuclear talks all about?," 15 Apr. 2021 More than ever before, it’s blue versus red America. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "America never more politically divided than under Biden," 15 Apr. 2021 This year, many students can expect to be in school for much of the summer, too, as school districts are planning their biggest summer programs ever and offering more tutoring than ever before. Andres Picon, San Antonio Express-News, "'Education has changed forever' - COVID upended K-12 schooling, and there's no going back," 15 Apr. 2021 Each practice has been more focused on the fundamentals than ever before. Shawn Mcfarland, courant.com, "Southington baseball has just one player with varsity experience, but championship aspirations remain same," 14 Apr. 2021 People will be far less likely to take a crosstown meeting on a Friday afternoon than before. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, "How will Hollywood get back to full speed? After the pandemic, some things may never return to normal," 14 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition Fire crews arrived to the unit minutes after the rescue, and the fire was under control shortly before 7 p.m. Contact IndyStar investigative reporter Ryan Martin at ryan.martin@indystar.com or by phone, Signal or WhatsApp at 317-500-4897. Ryan Martin, The Indianapolis Star, "'It just hit my heart': 4 children rescued from northeast side apartment fire Sunday," 5 Apr. 2021 Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a tweet shortly before 7 a.m. that no damage had been reported amid the quakes. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, "Swarm of earthquakes rattles L.A. area after magnitude 4.0 jolt," 5 Apr. 2021 Then, just before 7:30 p.m. Sunday, gunfire erupted in the 80 block of First Avenue North. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Violent weekend leaves 3 dead in Bessemer," 5 Apr. 2021 The shooting happened shortly before 1 a.m. in Anadarko, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Oklahoma City. Fox News, "Man killed, Oklahoma police officer wounded in early morning shootout," 5 Apr. 2021 Multiple shooters began firing more than 50 rounds just before 10 p.m. Sunday, striking both the inside and outside of Tony’s Market at the corner of Northwest 22nd Road and Franklin Drive. Brooke Baitinger, sun-sentinel.com, "More than 50 bullets were fired into a crowd in Fort Lauderdale, police said. Two kids are among the wounded.," 5 Apr. 2021 Thursday: Showers before 2 p.m., then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3 p.m. High near 72. Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, "Cincinnati weather: Highs in the 70s, then April showers this week," 5 Apr. 2021 The incident occurred just before 1 a.m. at the intersection of South Dakota Avenue and Bladensburg Road. Washington Post, "Man fatally struck after laying down in a Northeast D.C. intersection, police say," 4 Apr. 2021 The stabbing was reported just before 5 p.m. on Washington Street near Dove Street. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Man stabbed in abdomen in Hillcrest," 4 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'before.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of before

Adverb or adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Preposition

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Conjunction

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for before

Adverb or adjective

Middle English, adverb & preposition, from Old English beforan, from be- + foran before, from fore

Preposition

Middle English before, beforen, going back to Old English beforan — more at before entry 1

Conjunction

Middle English before, beforen, from before, beforen, before entry 2

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Time Traveler for before

Time Traveler

The first known use of before was before the 12th century

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Statistics for before

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Before.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/before. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for before

before

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of before

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: at an earlier time
formal + old-fashioned : to or toward the place where someone is going : in advance

before

preposition

English Language Learners Definition of before (Entry 2 of 3)

: at a time preceding (something or someone) : earlier than (something or someone)
US used to describe a time earlier than a specified hour
: preceding (something or someone) in order or in a series

before

conjunction

English Language Learners Definition of before (Entry 3 of 3)

: earlier than the time that : earlier than when
: until the time that
used to refer to something that might happen

before

adverb
be·​fore | \ bi-ˈfȯr How to pronounce before (audio) \

Kids Definition of before

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : at an earlier time I've been here before.
2 : ahead go on before

before

preposition

Kids Definition of before (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : in front of He stood before a mirror.
2 : earlier than You got there before me.
3 : before in order Your name is listed before mine.
4 : in the presence of She spoke before a crowd.

before

conjunction

Kids Definition of before (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : ahead of the time when Wash before you eat.
2 : sooner or quicker than I'll be done before you know it.
3 : more willingly than I'd starve before I'd steal.
4 : until the time that It wasn't long before he caught on.

before

preposition
be·​fore

Legal Definition of before

1 : in the presence of then personally appeared before me
2 : to be judged or acted on by a case before the court a bill coming up before Congress

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Comments on before

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