for·​mer | \ˈfȯr-mər \

Definition of former 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : coming before in time She now appears like her former self.

b : of, relating to, or occurring in the past former correspondence restoring the theater to its former glory

2 : preceding in place or arrangement : foregoing the former part of the chapter

3 : first in order of two or more things cited or understood of the two given, the former spelling is more common of the two spellings, the former is more common

4 : having been previously : onetime a former athlete her former husband


form·​er | \ˈfȯr-mər \

Definition of former (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one that forms

2 chiefly British : a member of a school form usually used in combination sixth former

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Synonyms & Antonyms for former

Synonyms: Adjective

antecedent, anterior, foregoing, precedent, preceding, previous, prior

Antonyms: Adjective

after, ensuing, following, later, posterior, subsequent, succeeding

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Choose the Right Synonym for former


preceding, antecedent, foregoing, previous, prior, former, anterior mean being before. preceding usually implies being immediately before in time or in place. the preceding sentence antecedent applies to order in time and may suggest a causal relation. conditions antecedent to the revolution foregoing applies chiefly to statements. the foregoing remarks previous and prior imply existing or occurring earlier, but prior often adds an implication of greater importance. a child from a previous marriage a prior obligation former implies always a definite comparison or contrast with something that is latter. the former name of the company anterior applies to position before or ahead of usually in space, sometimes in time or order. the anterior lobe of the brain

Examples of former in a Sentence


the coach is a former professional baseball player the former manual had some errors, but the current version has its own problems

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

For The Win spoke with Michael Hopper — an adviser to Formula E for the New York race who was a sports commissioner for former mayor Michael Bloomberg — about what fans can expect and how racing actually works in the streets of the city. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "6 things to know about Formula E's championship race in New York," 13 July 2018 The Republicans are: • Fred Costello, 68, a former mayor of Ormond Beach who served for four years as a state representative in Tallahassee. Steven Lemongello,, "Congress District 6: Where 6 candidates stand on issues," 13 July 2018 The woman ended up with a new seatmate, Euan Holden, a former pro soccer player turned model, and chatted with him throughout the flight. Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic, "Unidentified Plane Bae Woman's Statement Confirms the Worst," 13 July 2018 Yet talking to The Economist in his office in the finance ministry, the centrist former mayor of Hamburg advances a different strategy. The Economist, "An interview with Germany’s finance minister, Olaf Scholz," 12 July 2018 The former mayor first entered office in 2011 after his election to the District Two seat on the Board of Supervisors. Dominic Fracassa,, "Now-former SF Mayor Farrell looks back on short term, future of city," 12 July 2018 In a moment captured by cameras, Southgate — a former player himself who ended up managing the English national team for his first World Cup this year — shared a tender embrace with his wife, Alison, in the empty stands. Raisa Bruner, Time, "This Is the Most Tender Photo of the World Cup So Far," 12 July 2018 The founder of Jacques, a streamlined and ultra-minimal line of elevated men’s athleisure that debuted last year, is a former competitive player who began his career at the age of 5. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "This New Line of Logo-less Tennis Gear is For Guys Who Want to Look Good on and Off the Court," 12 July 2018 There’s former tennis player Rick McMullin, 59, of Oklahoma City, in town because his wife’s family has a house down the shore. Amy S. Rosenberg,, "Ocean City and the most cutthroat pickleball game at the Jersey Shore," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

How does the de-radicalization process introduce an alternative masculinity to formers? Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Can White Supremacists Unlearn Hate?," 13 Apr. 2018 Kim and Cohen met while the former was an associate creative director at Vice; Cohen served as a casting director on one of Kim’s projects. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "A New Invite-Only Chinatown Dinner Party For Musicians Aims to Bring Back New York When It Used to Be Cool," 18 June 2018 The former are based on audited school district spending and enrollment figures; the latter are estimates based on a survey of state education departments. Betsy Hammond,, "Oregon teacher salaries average $62K, above U.S. average," 25 Apr. 2018 His nonprofit takes a more compassionate approach than many other groups and governments, encouraging formers to share their stories and expand their social circles. Carla Power,, "'We have four generations of former terrorists here today': Rehabilitating extremists in Indonesia," 20 Apr. 2018 Though the events' previous venue, Lucky Strike Houston, is significantly closer to the home team's home base, Minute Maid Park, the latter boasts 14 bowling lanes to the former's 39. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "George Springer's fourth annual All-Star Bowling Benefit raises record $250K for youth who stutter," 10 July 2018 Longtime rivals during their prime years, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have become the PGA Tour's unlikeliest buddies upon the former's return to competitive play this year. Matt Bonesteel,, "Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson for $10 million. What's not to love?," 6 July 2018 Imparfaite was founded by best friends Ariane de Béchade and Camille Gabbi, the former of whom previously worked as a product manager for Lanvin and the latter as a sales and marketing manager for L’Oreal. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "This Is Where All of the Coolest French Girls Get Their Vintage Fashion," 2 July 2018 And while the former may not always be the case, the latter most definitely is. Zahir Janmohamed, Bon Appetit, "Saraga Is the International Grocery Store of My Dreams," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'former.' 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 former


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for former


Middle English, from forme first, from Old English forma — more at foremost

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Statistics for former

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for former

The first known use of former was in the 12th century

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More Definitions for former



English Language Learners Definition of former

—used to say what someone or something was in the past

: existing in the past


for·​mer | \ˈfȯr-mər \

Kids Definition of former

: coming before in time a former president

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Comments on former

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


a private place of worship

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