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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adverb
After all, rewrites are standard for any movie this early in production. Chris Smith, BGR, 21 Nov. 2022 Colt McCoy is 8-for-12 for 69 yards early in this game for the Cardinals. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 21 Nov. 2022 Six days later, the Eagles were down by double digits early in the third quarter in Indianapolis. Safid Deen, USA TODAY, 20 Nov. 2022 There was a play early in this game that went awry, effectively ending what could have been a tone-setter for Utah. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 20 Nov. 2022 There's also a moment early in the film, where Twohey is investigating another story about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Devan Coggan, EW.com, 19 Nov. 2022 Especially impressive against the Lobos was making adjustments to shut down the running game, which was effective early and disappeared thereafter. San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Nov. 2022 The special counsel role is the latest in a series of prosecutorial jobs for Smith, who early in his career was an assistant district attorney in New York before later joining the Justice Department. Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, Chicago Tribune, 18 Nov. 2022 Patrons are invited to arrive early and view the visual arts exhibition, Art Treasures 2022, of which some items are available for purchase at Customer Service. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, 17 Nov. 2022
Adjective
It had been crafted by artists working for early Muslim caliphs more than a thousand years ago. Matti Friedman, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Dec. 2022 The natives, led by their chief Massasoit, signed a peace treaty with the settlers, taught them how to farm and fish, and paved their path to early success. Stephen Underwood, Hartford Courant, 24 Nov. 2022 Garland faced intense criticism in 2021 and early 2022 for appearing to be slow to investigate the role of Trump and his top aides in efforts to reverse the results of the presidential election. Anchorage Daily News, 24 Nov. 2022 Like many traditional holidays, early Thanksgiving celebrations involved a food binge at a time when many people suffered a calorie deficit, so a large meal was a real treat. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, 24 Nov. 2022 While the early part of the season was relatively quiet, the Category 4 Hurricane Ian devastated parts of Southwest Florida and swept across the state at the end of September. Jim Turner, Sun Sentinel, 24 Nov. 2022 Police officers in the area to oversee the early school dismissal for the holiday responded to the location upon hearing the gunfire, Stanford said. Marlene Lenthang, NBC News, 24 Nov. 2022 Benchmarks rose in early trading in Japan, Australia and South Korea, but fell in Shanghai. Yuri Kageyama, ajc, 24 Nov. 2022 With a win already under their belt and the USA and Wales both on a single point, Southgate is likely to stress defensive concentration in the early going. cleveland, 24 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'early.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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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