\ 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 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

through, via

Synonyms: Adverb

around, close, hard, in, near, nearby, nigh

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Examples of by in a Sentence


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?


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

Video from the protest shows massive banners and crowd chanting Thomas’s name as cars honked their horns while driving by. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Arizona Students Marched for Classmate Thomas Torres-Maytorena, Who's Facing Deportation Court on Graduation Day," 7 May 2019 The tourists who stop by tend to be reverent, while the locals generally avoid the place altogether, sticking to the side streets. Sabra Ayres, latimes.com, "Roll over, Lenin: Red Square is transformed by the World Cup," 26 June 2018 Some people stop by on their lunch hour with enough time to eat and listen to some music before going back to work. Sheryl Devore, chicagotribune.com, "Lunch in the Park returns to Libertyville," 26 June 2018 The women stop by twice a day to feed and check on them. Allison Klein, Washington Post, "A homeless man died, leaving behind a pack of alley cats. His neighbors came to the rescue.," 2 Mar. 2018 Today, the original Stax property at East McClemore is home to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, with the Stax Music Academy and Soulsville Charter School close by. Brody Kenny, Billboard, "How Stax Got Its Groove Back: A 'Soul Explosion' 50th Anniversary Reissue and Retrospective," 12 June 2019 At night the cut roses would dimly illuminate the bedroom and leave the woman sleepless; the waters beating on the distant beach wanted to transport her but the croaking of frogs was monitoring her from close by. Benjamin Moser, Harper's magazine, "The Indirect World," 10 Apr. 2019 Each of the ride’s featured creatures, sprinkled along the way, is presented in different ways as riders fly by. Dewayne Bevil, orlandosentinel.com, "Universal Orlando: New roller coaster features Hagrid, creatures, high-speed stretches, surprises," 11 June 2019 Thus Trump’s 2016 general-election opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, won Oregon by 11 percentage points. oregonlive.com, "Donald Trump campaign eyes Oregon -- yes, Oregon -- in effort at ‘expanding the map’ in 2020 election," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

By the time the first inning had ended, Pomeranz and Hudson had combined for 70 pitches, 33 by Pomeranz and 37 by Hudson. Jerry Mcdonald, The Mercury News, "Giants road magic nowhere to be found in home loss to Cardinals," 5 July 2019 Franklin is semi-retired from his siding business, and he and his wife, Jacki, travel throughout SEC country in their recreation vehicle attending baseball games and, for football and basketball, games that are at home or close-by. Eric Olson, chicagotribune.com, "Infamous and annoying ‘Vanderbilt Whistlers’ vow to mute it during College World Series," 21 June 2019 Kendall Jenner, who emerged out of the airport in Nice, France, after stopping by for the Cannes Film Festival. Vogue, "Kendall Jenner Nails Airport Style With the Most Luxurious Carry-On," 22 May 2019 As the passer-by drove off, the man hit his car with the tool. Bay City News, The Mercury News, "Nearly naked hammer-wielding man arrested after Sonoma car wreck," 21 June 2019 The report offers gruesome, nearly minute-by-minute accounting of the events surrounding the killing, and cites sounds of a buzzing saw that could have been used to dismember Khashoggi’s body. Washington Post, "UN expert eyes probe of Saudi prince role in Khashoggi death," 20 June 2019 The two papers compete for scoops, subscribers and advertisers on a minute-by-minute basis. Brian Stelter, CNN, "NY Times publisher writes op-ed in Wall Street Journal to defend the free press," 19 June 2019 The service will bring 4G cellular data to RTA trains and buses, which will be used to provide Wi-Fi for passengers and will power real-time location and vehicle diagnostics, messaging and turn-by-turn navigation for RTA staff. Courtney Astolfi, cleveland.com, "RTA board approves free passenger Wi-Fi," 18 June 2019 Waze also uses Google’s new low-profile Assistant interface, so turn-by-turn directions won’t be obstructed. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Google Assistant takes the wheel in Waze to bring hands-free reports and directions," 10 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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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by air



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Time Traveler for by

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

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on by

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with by

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


characterized by aphorism

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