\ˈbī, 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 \

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 \
variants: or bye
plural byes\ˈbīz \

Definition of by (Entry 3 of 5)

: something of secondary importance : a side issue by the by

\ˈbī \
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 \
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

But one thing that is quintessentially Wisconsin is the rumble of a Harley-Davidson roaring by. Adriana Ramirez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Oconomowoc Harley-Davidson continues construction on in-house training course," 13 July 2018 Their pieces are displayed gallery-style and sold during shows and during the week to people who stop by. Bryce Airgood, Detroit Free Press, "Artist with special needs brightens up Berkley with chalk drawings," 12 July 2018 Morris gets out a grill and cooks hot dogs and hamburgers for anyone who stops by. Valerie Russ, Philly.com, "Part safe space, part beacon, West Philly's Urban Art Gallery 'bridges the gap between violence and peace'," 11 July 2018 Timehop is already working on preventing future breaches by heavily enforcing the use of two-factor authentication on its internal systems and encrypting its databases. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Timehop’s data breach included more personal user information than originally announced," 11 July 2018 Lower level sounds like people talking or cars driving by could set if off wasting battery and memory card space. Michael Stillwell, Popular Mechanics, "How To Photograph a Rocket Launch," 6 July 2018 When Los Angeles police cars pass by, Andriy notices. Brittny Mejia, latimes.com, "A 3-year-old was separated from his father at the border. Now his parents are dealing with his trauma," 3 July 2018 That doesn’t include the various boosters and administrators who pop by, or the students who get a glimpse of drills while walking to class. Ross Dellenger, SI.com, "Like the Rest of College Football, the SEC Is Still Building Its Game Plan for Sports Betting," 5 June 2018 The British monarch also keeps her handbag close by, as well a pair of glasses, multiple clocks, and various other dishes and small trinkets. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth Keeps a Never-Before-Seen Photo of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Display in Buckingham Palace," 30 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Two new food trucks, one by started by a Qualitas cleaning lady, have sprouted up near the property because there wasn’t anywhere nearby for Qualitas staff and visitors to buy lunch. Lynn Brezosky, San Antonio Express-News, "Remote Texas algae farm grows a food for the future," 27 June 2018 Demonstrators flashed signs at cars passing by and marched around a Woodstock park. Fox News, "99-year-old woman organizes Vermont border policy protest," 21 June 2018 The union won another wage dispute with the county, which began in 2012 when a deputy filed a grievance with the county over stand-by and call-back pay. Alison Knezevich, baltimoresun.com, "Sheriff's deputies in dispute with Baltimore County over wages, staffing, guns and vehicles," 18 June 2018 Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said on Wednesday that during the drive-by, the shooter fired nine .40 caliber rounds at the victim. Chris Irvine, Fox News, "Cop who fatally shot unarmed 17-year-old boy was sworn in just 90 minutes before, police sources say," 22 June 2018 Quantopian, by contrast, provides minute-by-minute data. Alexander Osipovich, WSJ, "Want to Be a High-Frequency Trader? Here’s Your Chance," 23 Mar. 2018 For the foreseeable future, the protestors plan to remain at City Hall, hoping for good weather and the good will of volunteers and passers-by. Philly.com, "ICE protestors outside City Hall battle heat, loss of electricity," 9 July 2018 The actual shooter in the drive-by was also charged Wednesday. Nikki Battiste, CBS News, "Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld charged in shooting death of unarmed teen Antwon Rose," 27 June 2018 By the by, JD.com’s CEO, Richard Liu, will be appearing at the Aspen, Colo., conference too. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Data Sheet—Why the Pride of Green Tech Startups Is Going Public," 18 June 2018

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


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


see by entry 1


see by entry 1


see by entry 1


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

\ \

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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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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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