\ 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 measurements divide a by bmultiply 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 increments little 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 by (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: Preposition Ticket capacity will also be restricted by ten or 20%. Nour Rahal, Detroit Free Press, 15 July 2021 Bush unveiled his new venture, Zus Health, on June 17, along with $34 million in equity financing led by the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. BostonGlobe.com, 15 July 2021 The pharmacy, Valisure LLC, petitioned the FDA to remove the products, including some of those recalled by J&J. Felicia Schwartz, WSJ, 15 July 2021 But a number of Republicans, led by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., oppose legalization. Trish Turner, ABC News, 14 July 2021 Cases rose last week by 10% to nearly 3 million, WHO said. Heather Hollingsworth And Maria Cheng, chicagotribune.com, 14 July 2021 Year-to-date property crimes have increased by 36%. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 July 2021 Cases rose last week by 10% to nearly 3 million, WHO said. Heather Hollingsworth And Maria Cheng, Star Tribune, 14 July 2021 The Radio Neutrino Observatory Greenland (RNO-G), led by the University of Chicago, the Free University of Brussels, and the German accelerator center DESY, is the first concerted effort to test the concept. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, 14 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Today, the ball field and gas station stand as timeworn reminders of an exotic era gone by. Rob Levin, ajc, 11 July 2021 The majority said that the court in the past has certified applicants to the board despite an adverse determination from the board, six years have gone by since her arrest and the law school faulty vouched for her. Todd Richmond, Star Tribune, 29 June 2021 In February MoCaFi raised an additional $12 million from fintech investor Tom Hutton, Mastercard and the Citi Impact Fund, among others, after getting by with just $7 million of capital in the previous years. Kristin Stoller, Forbes, 18 June 2021 Even though so much time has gone by, take care of this now before the situation gets even worse. Gary Singer, sun-sentinel.com, 10 June 2021 The time has gone by in a blur of beautiful gardens and nurseries, amazing, visionary people and countless do-it-yourself projects. oregonlive, 10 June 2021 Flash forward a decade, and the urchin has grown up into Stone, getting by mostly as a thief with her pals Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser). Brian Lowry, CNN, 27 May 2021 But having a prominent face behind a clothing collection is no new concept—they’ve just gotten more elaborate and splashy as the years have gone by. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 27 May 2021 Alberti writes that, for many of us, the loneliness of old people is held up as evidence of a lost era—of a better, kinder, more neighborly society gone by. Katie Engelhart, The New Yorker, 24 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Mellencamp’s optimistic characters were more in touch with what was actually happening in America than the harrumphing progressive singer was on his drive-by. Kyle Smith, National Review, 4 July 2021 But Shester said any reduction of by-catch in the fishery is attributable to the fact that there are fewer fishermen using the drift gill nets in recent decades. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 July 2021 To us, every passer-by represents the quintessential spirit of Milan. Luke Leitch, Vogue, 22 June 2021 Fermentation is a centuries-old process that uses microbes, such as yeast or fungi, to break down a compound, such as sugar, and create a by-product, like alcohol – or, in this case, protein. Brian Kateman, Forbes, 7 June 2021 Demonstrators in the city of Monywa poured cans of beer over their feet and those of passers-by to show their contempt for the brewery’s owners — the military. BostonGlobe.com, 6 Mar. 2021 The preliminary investigation shows that the teens were shot in a drive-by. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 8 Apr. 2021 The week before his bar mitzvah, his friends took part in a drive-by to celebrate him. Sergio Carmona, sun-sentinel.com, 2 Apr. 2021 Four teams that didn't make it — Louisville, Colorado State, St. Louis and Mississippi — have been put on stand-by. Eddie Pells, Star Tribune, 14 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Running backs coach Mike Jinks reiterated USC wants to employ less of a by-committee approach this fall, and Ingram has the look of a workhorse, with the ability to do damage in space and between the tackles. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 1 May 2021 About 500 fast charging stalls will go live the by end of this year, GM said. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, 28 Apr. 2021 But even Alabama must face this stark reality: Smith, Waddle and Harris were generational talents capable of being replaced only with a by-committee approach. USA Today, 16 Apr. 2021 Clouds will increase by evening as the next rainy front approaches. oregonlive, 29 Apr. 2020 Partly sunny skies emerge for all by afternoon as temperatures struggle to move past the 30s to low 40s for highs. Matt Rogers, Washington Post, 10 Dec. 2019 Horton was a familiar face in the community by sight, if not by name. Susan Hoffman, Daily Pilot, 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, 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, 30 Oct. 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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Learn More About by

Time Traveler for by

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near by





by air



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Statistics for by

Last Updated

17 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“By.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/by. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for by



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)



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 measurements a room 14 feet wide by 20 feet long or to join the numbers in a statement of multiplication or division Divide 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on by

Nglish: Translation of by for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of by for Arabic Speakers


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