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
Cleveland Cleveland will have lots of clouds early in the day. Emily Shapiro, ABC News, 8 Apr. 2024 William Eklund played as the Sharks’ second-line center for a short period earlier this year but had his share of struggles, and Quinn decided to move Kunin back into that role. Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News, 8 Apr. 2024 Disney earlier this year announced tje $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. Todd Spangler, Variety, 8 Apr. 2024 Her album My Stupid Life released earlier this year. Charisma Madarang, Rolling Stone, 8 Apr. 2024 In addition, Wilson will team up with Brooks & Dunn and Sammy Hagar to sing in tribute to the late Toby Keith, who died of stomach cancer at age 62 earlier this year in February. Jack Irvin, Peoplemag, 8 Apr. 2024 Gardner awkwardly enters the wide shot early for the LFNY. Andy Hoglund, EW.com, 7 Apr. 2024 The incident took place after the singer had performed four back-to-back concerts in Sydney that week and three shows in Melbourne earlier that month. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 27 Mar. 2024 The first program of its kind for an HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities), Spelman's new cosmetic chemistry curriculum was announced earlier this month and, according to a press release, will focus on product formulation and development. Marci Robin, Allure, 27 Mar. 2024
Adjective
Federal judges have begun ordering the early release pending appeal of Jan. 6 defendants who challenged their sentences even though the Supreme Court is a week away from hearing arguments on whether a key charge brought against them is legally sound. Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2024 This upheaval is something millennials will be familiar with—many of them were early in their careers when the financial crisis of 2008 hit. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 9 Apr. 2024 In Denmark the drinking culture is heavy, and the next step is to experiment with drugs from an early age. Annika Pham, Variety, 9 Apr. 2024 Scientists began to understand why in the early 1900s. Jon Hamilton, NPR, 9 Apr. 2024 Sadio Mané did score for Al-Nassr following Ronaldo’s departure, but earlier goals from Salem Al-Dawsari and Malcom gave Al-Hilal a 2-1 victory. George Ramsay, CNN, 9 Apr. 2024 Branson’s fortune peaked at almost $8 billion in early 2021 as record-low interest rates fueled a pandemic bull market. Ben Stupples, Fortune Europe, 9 Apr. 2024 Since the early 1900s, the brand has proven itself as a premier developer of stopwatches and dashboard timers for prestigious institutions like the Olympic Games and Ferrari. Allen Farmelo, Robb Report, 9 Apr. 2024 Nguyen says that in early meetings, producers were uneasy about his insistence that the show center Vietnamese people speaking Vietnamese. Andrew R. Chow, TIME, 9 Apr. 2024

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 14 Apr. 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

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