1

erstwhile

play
adverb erst·while \ ˈərst-ˌ(h)wī(-ə)l \
Updated on: 11 Sep 2017

Definition of erstwhile

:in the past :formerly
  • cultures, erstwhile unknown to each other
  • —Robert Plank

erstwhile was our Word of the Day on 05/10/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of erstwhile in a Sentence

  1. there's now a store where erstwhile lay green and pleasant pastures

Did You Know?

The adverb erstwhile has been part of English since the 16th century, but it is formed from two words that are much older. It comes from the Old English words ær, meaning "early," and hwīl, which has much the same meaning as the modern word while. (The English word ere, meaning "before," is also descendant of ær.) The adjective erstwhile, as in erstwhile enemies, joined the language around 1900.

First Known Use of erstwhile

1569

erstwhile Synonyms

Synonyms
formerly, once, onetime
Near Antonyms
lately, recently; currently, now, presently

2

erstwhile

adjective

Definition of erstwhile

:former, previous
  • erstwhile enemies

Examples of erstwhile in a Sentence

  1. my erstwhile friend ignored me when I ran into her at the mall

Recent Examples of erstwhile from the Web

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

First Known Use of erstwhile

1849


ERSTWHILE Defined for English Language Learners

erstwhile

adjective

Definition of erstwhile for English Language Learners

  • : in the past



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up erstwhile? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a strongly worded attack

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!