by

1 of 5

preposition

ˈbī How to pronounce by (audio)
 before consonants also 
1
: in proximity to : near
standing by the window
2
a
: 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
3
a
: during the course of
studied by night
b
: not later than
be there by 2 p.m.
4
a
: 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
6
a
: 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 b
multiply 10 by 4
a room 15 feet by 20 feet
8
a
: 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 little
walk two by two
11
: in the opinion of : from the point of view of
OK by me

by

2 of 5

adverb

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

by

3 of 5

noun

variants or bye
plural byes ˈbīz How to pronounce by (audio)
: something of secondary importance : a side issue
by the by

by

4 of 5

adjective

variants or bye
1
: being off the main route : side
a by passage
2
: incidental
by effects

by

5 of 5

interjection

variants or bye
used to express farewell
often used with following now
Phrases
by the by or by the bye

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?
Recent Examples on the Web
Preposition
That was down 70% from the March 29-April 4 frame when the Netflix series impressed by coming at No. 2 in its first full week in release. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 13 Apr. 2024 The proposal would also save $400,000 by shrinking the number of annual fire academies from three to two. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for by 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'by.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

Interjection

short for goodbye

First Known Use

Preposition

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

Adverb

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

Noun

1567, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Interjection

1709, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near by

Cite this Entry

“By.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/by. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

by

1 of 3 preposition
(ˈ)bī How to pronounce by (audio)
 especially before consonants 
1
: close to : near
by the sea
2
a
: so as to go along or through
by a different route
enter by the door
b
: past entry 2 sense 2
went right by them
3
a
: at, during
studied by night
b
: not later than
be there by 2 p.m.
4
: through the means or agency of
by force
5
: according to sense 1
by the rules
called by a different name
6
: with respect to
a doctor by profession
7
: to or in the amount or length of
win by a nose
sold by the pound
8
: in a series of
walk two by two
9
used as a function word in multiplication and division and in measurements
divide 6 by 2
a room 15 feet by 20 feet
10
: in the opinion of
it's fine by me

by

2 of 3 adverb
1
a
: close at hand : near
standing by
b
: at or to another's home
stop by for a chat
2
: past entry 4
cars went by
3
: aside entry 1 sense 2
putting some money by

by

3 of 3 noun
variants or bye
plural byes
ˈbīz
: something incidental

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