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 11th-generation Honda Civic has been revealed in full and will use the same 158-hp four-cylinder and 180-hp turbocharged four-cylinder as before. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, "A Visual History of the Honda Civic," 29 Apr. 2021 The Vikings have tried talented SEC kickers who've struggled at the end of their college careers twice before; will the third time be the charm? Ben Goessling, Star Tribune, "Ten picks and some trades: Our seven-round 2021 Vikings mock draft," 28 Apr. 2021 The notch is narrower than before as the speaker moves up to the thin bezel. Chris Smith, BGR, "This leak might be our first look at a real iPhone 13," 28 Apr. 2021 The Fayette Station Road Tour takes travelers down into the gorge and back up again, along the path that auto traffic had to take before the new bridge was built. Susan Glaser, cleveland, "Exploring West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park, the nation’s newest park – and also one of the oldest," 28 Apr. 2021 In order to help mitigate some of these challenges, DTC brands should look for new end-to-end solutions that specifically help with logistics and distribution, and that never existed before. Quora, Forbes, "What Are Some Of The Biggest Challenges Direct-To-Consumer Brands Are Facing?," 28 Apr. 2021 Clay birdhouse instructor Liz Rodriguez, owner of nearby pottery school Easthampton Clay, had not taught at Snow Farm before. BostonGlobe.com, "‘A great antidote to the sadness’ at Snow Farm craft school," 28 Apr. 2021 Employees of any of these businesses should wash their hands at least before and after each client, cleaning and work breaks. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "How to reduce Covid-19 risk at salons and spas," 28 Apr. 2021 The allocation has fallen that far only twice before since 1996, according to the state Department of Water Resources, which runs the project. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Water created California and the West. Will drought finish them off?," 28 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition Participation could drop even more: 30% of children who played a sport before the pandemic are now no longer interested in participating, according to Aspen’s national survey, published in October. jsonline.com, "How COVID-19 may have made the economic divides in youth sports worse than before," 29 Apr. 2021 The teams play a two-inning game on Saturdays and every player bats once each inning and scores a run before the inning is over – usually via a home run. Gary Curreri, sun-sentinel.com, "Miracle League of Palm Beach County up and running," 29 Apr. 2021 To assert that there must be due process of law before the state exacts punishment was, seemingly until moments ago, to assert a principle so foundational to the requirements of a free, prosperous society as to be humdrum. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Due Process Matters," 29 Apr. 2021 The most popular place seemed to be the team shop in the stadium, with a line of more than 80 people lining the corridor in the afternoon, hours before the first pick was to take place. Marc Bona, cleveland, "NFL Draft’s Day 1 kicks off with local food, NFL Experience, photo ops - and high-priced parking," 29 Apr. 2021 The wine ages in older oak barrels for 14 months and stays 18 months in bottle before being released. Per And Britt Karlsson, Forbes, "Wines From Mount Etna, A New Adventure For Sicilian Wine Producer Donnafugata," 28 Apr. 2021 Over the last few days, police tried unsuccessfully to push for charges against four or five suspects in those homicides, according to the source, who also said at least two of them were in custody before being released overnight. Paige Fry, chicagotribune.com, "2 charged with murder in Albany Park killing part of larger area violence pattern, police say," 28 Apr. 2021 Those released were not tested for the coronavirus by the government before being released. Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, "Unprecedented border crises overtake Biden's first 100 days," 28 Apr. 2021 After playing one game in 2019 before being released by the Patriots, Brown was suspended by the NFL under the league's personal conduct policy for the first half of the 2020 regular season following an investigation. Analis Bailey, USA TODAY, "Antonio Brown agrees to re-sign with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on one-year deal," 28 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

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Before.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/before. Accessed 8 May. 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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