early

1 of 2

adverb

ear·​ly ˈər-lē How to pronounce early (audio)
earlier; earliest
1
a
: near the beginning of a period of time
awoke early in the morning
b
: near the beginning of a course, process, or series
early in his senatorial career
2
a
: before the usual or expected time
the train arrived early
b
archaic : soon
c
: sooner than related forms
these apples bear early

early

2 of 2

adjective

earlier; earliest
1
a
: of, relating to, or occurring near the beginning of a period of time, a development, or a series
in the early evening
the early symptoms of the disease
b(1)
: distant in past time
(2)
: primitive
early tools
2
a
: occurring before the usual or expected time
an early arrival
b
: occurring in the near future
at your earliest convenience
c
: maturing or producing sooner than related forms
an early peach
earliness noun

Examples of early in a Sentence

Adverb Early in his career he moved to the city. a word first recorded early in the 17th century They were trailing by a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The package should be arriving early next week. She arrived early to help with the preparations. I got up early to finish packing. Adjective the early symptoms of the disease The early part of the book is better than the later part. We had an early spring this year. We're early. The show doesn't start for half an hour. I've always been an early riser.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adverb
Still, even as early as the '80s, Cryer knew Moore had that unmistakable spark despite her private troubles. Alex Ross, Peoplemag, 8 June 2024 Almog Meir Jan, a 21-year-old from a small town near Tel Aviv, had finished his army service three months earlier, according to the Times of Israel, an English-language Israeli website. Joseph Krauss, Chicago Tribune, 8 June 2024
Adjective
The Sutton family’s food stamps stopped in early 2023. Roxana Popescu, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 June 2024 Still, the trio finished with the edge on the scoreboard, scoring the early goal to let Florida play nearly the entire game with the lead. David Wilson, Miami Herald, 9 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for early 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'early.' 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

Adverb

Middle English erly, from Old English ǣrlīce, from ǣr early, soon — more at ere

First Known Use

Adverb

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

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near early

Cite this Entry

“Early.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/early. Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

early

1 of 2 adverb
ear·​ly ˈər-lē How to pronounce early (audio)
earlier; earliest
1
: near the beginning of a period of time or of a process or series
woke up early
2
: before the usual or expected time
arrived early

early

2 of 2 adjective
earlier; earliest
1
a
: of, relating to, or occurring near the beginning of a period of time, a development, or a series
in the early evening
b
: primitive
early art forms
2
a
: occurring before the usual or expected time
had an early winter
b
: maturing or producing sooner than related forms
an early peach
earliness noun

Biographical Definition

Early

biographical name

Ear·​ly ˈər-lē How to pronounce Early (audio)
Ju*bal ˈjü-bəl How to pronounce Early (audio) Anderson 1816–1894 American Confederate general

More from Merriam-Webster on early

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