\ ˈbī How to pronounce by (audio) , before consonants also \

Definition of by

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 : in proximity to : near standing by the window
2a : into the vicinity of and beyond : past went right by him
b : through or through the medium (see medium entry 1 sense 2) of : via enter by the door
c : in the direction of : toward sailed north by east
3a : during the course of studied by night
b : not later than be there by 2 p.m.
4a : through the agency (see agency sense 3) or instrumentality of a poem written by Keats death by firing squad taken by force happened by luck
b : born or begot of had two sons by his first wife one child by her second husband
c : sired or borne by having foals by champion race horses
5 : with the witness or sanction (see sanction entry 1 sense 4c) of swear by all that is holy
6a : in conformity with acted by the rules
b : according to called her by name sold by the pound
7 used as a function word in multiplication, in division, and in measurementsdivide a bybmultiply 10 by 4a room 15 feet by 20 feet
8a : with respect to a lawyer by profession
b : on behalf of did right by his children
9 : in or to the amount or extent of win by a nose
b chiefly Scotland : in comparison with : beside
10 used as a function word to indicate successive units or incrementslittle by littlewalk two by two
11 : in the opinion of : from the point of view of OK by me
by the by or by the bye
\ ˈbī How to pronounce by (audio) \

Definition of by (Entry 2 of 5)

1 : past saw him go by
2a : at or to another's home stop by
b : close at hand : near lives close by
3 : aside, away


\ ˈbī How to pronounce by (audio) \
variants: or bye
plural byes\ ˈbīz How to pronounce byes (audio) \

Definition of by (Entry 3 of 5)

: something of secondary importance : a side issue by the by
\ ˈbī How to pronounce by (audio) \
variants: or bye

Definition of by (Entry 4 of 5)

1 : being off the main route : side a by passage
2 : incidental by effects
\ ˈbī How to pronounce by (audio) \
variants: or bye

Definition of by (Entry 5 of 5)

used to express farewell often used with following now

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Synonyms for by

Synonyms: Preposition

Synonyms: Adverb

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Examples of by in a Sentence

Preposition His wife was sitting by him. They have a house by the lake. The bus went right by him without stopping. Some friends stopped by our house for a chat. Why don't you come by my place later? Adverb The bus went right by without stopping. We stood and applauded as the parade went by. Why don't you come by later?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Deaths and major confrontations pass by in a couple of minutes, while more expository scenes linger for longer than necessary. Nicolette Munoz, Los Angeles Times, "Review: An East L.A. memoir comes to life in ‘Always Running’ at Casa 0101 Theater," 14 Sep. 2019 Inventing online alternatives and attracting full-tuition students from abroad is one way of paying the bills, but colleges have been trying both strategies for the past two decades, so the yield may not increase by much. Allen C. Guelzo, WSJ, "‘Restoring the Promise’ Review: High Cost, Low Yield," 24 June 2019 The Razer Phone 2’s cameras haven’t improved by much. Stefan Etienne, The Verge, "Razer Phone 2 review: it glows, but it doesn’t shine," 22 Oct. 2018 Trump merely asks us to take him at his word that there were between six and 18 deaths after the storm hit on September 20, and that the number didn’t go up by much after that. Eliza Barclay, Vox, "What we know about the death toll in Puerto Rico," 13 Sep. 2018 Viewership was down from the comparable 2017 matchups but not by much, according to Nielsen figures released Tuesday. Washington Post, "Warriors-Cavaliers showdown powers ABC to ratings victory," 5 June 2018 It was capped by this, on first-and-goal in the fourth quarter while trailing by five. Gary Gramling, SI.com, "Week 2 Takeaways: Josh Allen Owns New York, Cowboys Outclass Another Rival, Big Ben Down," 15 Sep. 2019 After looking in her Royal Air Force booklet and excitedly peeking over the balcony in anticipation of the next plane to pass by, Charlotte lost her balance and started to fall backward. Erin Hill, PEOPLE.com, "The Real Reason Princess Charlotte Adorably Stuck Out Her Tongue at Will and Kate’s Sailing Event," 21 Aug. 2019 At Turner’s neighborhood cigar store, there’s a street hustler who scams passers-by into playing Pass the Lady, but Turner never gets drawn in. Constance Grady, Vox, "Colson Whitehead’s spare, riveting, horrifying Nickel Boys," 18 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun However, Europa Clipper will never actually touch Europa, and simply flying by was never enough for Culberson. Loren Grush, The Verge, "NASA’s Europa lander may be in jeopardy after the midterms — and some are fine with seeing it go," 10 Nov. 2018 Less than a month ago, the 22-year-old prospect was still at the United States Air Force Academy, acclimated to a heavily structured routine, in which every day was broken down minute-by-minute. Wells Dusenbury, sun-sentinel.com, "Uncle Sam wants you (Marlins’ Nic Ready) to play baseball," 27 June 2019 Oh and, by the by, that lanky 14-year-old with the excellent dribble handle, court sense and hops? Michael Powell, New York Times, "Canada Becomes a Basketball Factory," 8 June 2019 Instead, Hart’s security team whisked the star away to his nearby home, and a passer-by called 911 to report that at least two people were still trapped in the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "Kevin Hart: 911 call from his home shows more than an hour’s delay in seeking medical help after car crash," 5 Sep. 2019 Across the country and around the globe, millions followed on TV, many of them glued to the gripping minute-by-minute account of the legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite. Norah O'donnell, CBS News, ""Man on the Moon:" The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing," 16 July 2019 Police were trying to locate two suspects in the drive-by shooting as of late Monday night. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, "Triple drive-by shooting wounds 3 teens in Ensley," 29 July 2019 That would be Antelope Canyon and its fellow natural wonder turned Instagram trap Horseshoe Bend, which during the social media era have transformed Page from a vacation season drive-by into a year-round international destination. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "Everyone wants to Instagram the world’s most beautiful canyon. Should they?," 11 July 2019 As police investigated, a 25-year-old man walked up to officers and told them he’d also been shot during the drive-by. Katherine Rosenberg-douglas, chicagotribune.com, "7 people shot Sunday morning in Chicago, 1 fatally and 4 of them teenagers," 9 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Horton was a familiar face in the community by sight, if not by name. Susan Hoffman, Daily Pilot, "Costa Mesa woman known for her fight to authenticate a possible Jackson Pollock painting dies without selling it," 15 July 2019 JoJo’ Robar, if not by name then by description — that guy with the 200-watt smile and his three-wheeled bike who rode all over, collecting cans and friends. Bill Leukhardt, Courant Community, "Plainville Says Goodbye To JoJo," 13 June 2018 In the church’s library, retired religion scholar Herb Burhenn unpacks John 16 verse by verse as a dozen seniors seated around a long table listen and nod deferentially. G. Jeffrey Macdonald, The Christian Science Monitor, "Luther’s legacy: How people use the Bible today, 500 years after a monk sparked the Protestant Reformation," 30 Oct. 2017 Other prominent Israeli politicians and bodies preceded Mr. Netanyahu in condemning the violence in Charlottesville and the response of Mr. Trump, if not by name. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, "As Trump Offers Neo-Nazis Muted Criticism, Netanyahu Is Largely Silent," 18 Aug. 2017 Shipping the hefty-size goods that consumers buy from Costco in bulk could eat into profit margins that are already low for most household staples—particularly as carriers move to charge by dimension as well as weight. Paul Page, WSJ, "Today’s Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ," 6 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'by.' 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 by


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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b


1567, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1709, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for by

Preposition, Adverb, Noun, and Adjective

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


short for goodbye

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Dictionary Entries near by





by air



Statistics for by

Time Traveler for by

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

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More Definitions for by

How to pronounce by (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of by

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: close to or next to (something or someone)
: up to and beyond (something or someone)
: at or to (someone's home)
How to pronounce by (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of by (Entry 2 of 2)

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
\ How to pronounce by (audio) \

Kids Definition of by

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : close to : near His dog stood by the door.
2 : so as to go on We went by the back road. I prefer to travel by bus.
3 : so as to go through The burglar left by the back window.
4 : so as to pass A policeman drove by the house.
5 : at sense 1, during I travel by night.
6 : no later than Be sure to leave by noon.
7 : with the use or help of She won by cheating.
8 : through the action of It was seen by the others.
9 : according to sense 1 Play by the rules.
10 : with respect to He is a lawyer by profession. She is a Canadian by birth.
11 : to the amount of The youngest runner won by a mile.
12 used to join two or more measurementsa room 14 feet wide by 20 feet long or to join the numbers in a statement of multiplication or divisionDivide 8 by 4.

Kids Definition of by (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : near at hand Stand by.
2 : past entry 4 in days gone by We walked right by.
by and by
: after a while We left by and by.

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More from Merriam-Webster on by

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for by

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with by

Spanish Central: Translation of by

Nglish: Translation of by for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of by for Arabic Speakers

Comments on by

What made you want to look up by? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to spread as a report or rumor

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