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 Kantar found that two thirds of sports fans in the US found sporting events without fans during the pandemic to be less enjoyable than ones before. Adam Epstein, Quartz, 2 June 2021 After the article dropped, Willows started listing sources for its ingredients on its site, including multinational food wholesaler Sysco, which would have been anathema before. Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report, 2 June 2021 The first day featured a number of locals who had been to campus before but had never seen inside the buildings. Giana Han, al, 2 June 2021 Never before has a summer getaway seemed so essential. Steff Yotka, Vogue, 1 June 2021 Never before has such a consequential star exited an event as big as the French Open over something that nearly every top tennis player has said in recent days is as much a part of being on the tour as lengthy travel schedules. BostonGlobe.com, 31 May 2021 Obviously, Natalie has been to an American grocery store before and knows what a deli counter looks like. Ashley Ray-harris, Vulture, 31 May 2021 However Palestinian politicians and civil society groups have never before had access to such senior executives, 7amleh’s Mona Shtaya said. NBC News, 29 May 2021 Underwriters ought to have access to our medical records and teams before, during and after tours. Eve Barlow, EW.com, 27 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition The man, who allegedly rammed his SUV into police vehicles before the shooting, survived and faces criminal charges. Elizabeth Depompei, The Indianapolis Star, 5 June 2021 Utility player Daniel Robertson also has played the position, as has Keston Hiura, the starter there before moving to first base this season. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5 June 2021 Let some time elapse before making a decision about a major purchase. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, 5 June 2021 The Suns won just 19 games in having their second-worst season in franchise history before Williams was hired in May 2018. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 5 June 2021 After having just visited the Chagrin Valley Country Club on the evening of May 24, police returned just before 7 p.m. when an alarm went off at the main building’s cocktail bar. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, 5 June 2021 Last week marks the first time claims have fallen below 400,000 since before the pandemic. Adrienne Roberts And Kristi Tanner, Detroit Free Press, 4 June 2021 Republican governors in 25 states have responded by cutting off that benefit prematurely, starting this month, before the benefits are scheduled to end nationally on Sept. 6. Christopher Rugaber, ajc, 4 June 2021 Lil Durk announced his close collaborator’s passing with a tweet on May 31, days before the project’s release. Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone, 4 June 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

6 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Before.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/before. Accessed 12 Jun. 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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