\ 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 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 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 The total caseload is now growing by well over 10,000 daily in Europe. Mike Ives, New York Times, "Coronavirus, Italy, California: Your Friday Briefing," 20 Mar. 2020 At some spots on Bellaire Boulevard, whole shifts glided by without customers. Bryan Washington, The New Yorker, "My City’s Heart Is Its Restaurants," 20 Mar. 2020 But that percentage is expected to triple by midcentury as tourism and travel expand. Maxine Joselow, Scientific American, "Democrats Want to Include Climate Action in Coronavirus Aid," 19 Mar. 2020 JPMorgan anticipates an even bigger shock, with second-quarter GDP collapsing by 14%. Matt Egan, CNN, "Coronavirus could spark another Great Depression, former Trump adviser warns," 19 Mar. 2020 Wall Street had a grisly start to the week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sliding by 3,000 points, or 13 percent. NBC News, "San Francisco orders nearly 7 million not to leave home "except for essential needs."," 17 Mar. 2020 There are more chances for precipitation that will arrive by early next week, forecasters said, with an overall warmer and wetter than normal pattern for the next week or so. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati weather: Expect possibly severe thunderstorms on Thursday," 11 Mar. 2020 Goose Lake Park This is tailgate central, where folks picnic and party while teams pass by. Anchorage Daily News, "Here are the best places to watch the Iditarod ceremonial start in Anchorage," 7 Mar. 2020 Louisville’s coaching staff did enough to help the defense improve by 11 points per game and hope to improve again this season. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Why defensive staff continuity could be step in right direction for Louisville football," 3 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This health and safety measure within the by-laws will not be waived. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "Coronavirus: Cincinnati police say if you request officers, please meet them outside," 13 Mar. 2020 Cameras able to extract face prints from passers-by are common in the streets of large cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The Economist, "China’s success at AI has relied on good data," 2 Jan. 2020 In the days before Sadeq was scheduled to arrive, the U.S. forces at the base worked with Afghan commandos to draw up a minute-by-minute plan. Brett Murphy, USA Today, "Inside the U.S. military raid against its own security guards that left dozens of Afghan children dead," 30 Dec. 2019 The occasional headlights of a motorscooter and three-wheeled mini-trucks flash by, but there are no street lights or cars on Stromboli. Andrea Frazzetta, National Geographic, "What it’s like to live in the shadow of an active volcano," 29 Dec. 2019 The displays have drawn both support and outrage from churchgoers and passers-by. Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph in a cage: Political nativity scenes are causing a stir across the US," 14 Dec. 2019 The color touchscreen shows workout animations, topo and ski maps, golf course maps, turn-by-turn navigations, and additional fitness metrics like ClimbPro's ascent planner, PacePro insights, respiration data, VO2 max, and more. Jeff Dunn And Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Guidemaster: Nine gift ideas for the tech enthusiast in your life," 13 Dec. 2019 So there were no secrets Thursday when Owings Mills traveled to Mt. Hebron for a non-league dual meet, which the Vikings won, 42-33, by taking eight of the matches and six by fall or forfeit. Tim Schwartz, baltimoresun.com, "Mt. Hebron wrestling takes down familiar foe No. 14 Owings Mills," 12 Dec. 2019 Kate Middleton, while on an outing with kids in Buckinghamshire, wore a Perfect Moment red puffer coat and a by Really Wild Clothing green sweater. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Pippa Middleton Wore the Most Festive Red and Green Outfit to Church," 4 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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, "D.C.-area forecast: A mild morning before temperatures tumble. Wet snow possible late tonight.," 10 Dec. 2019 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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Time Traveler for by

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for by

Cite this Entry

“By.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/by. Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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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

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