for·​mer | \ ˈfȯr-mər How to pronounce former (audio) \

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 How to pronounce former (audio) \

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 for former

Synonyms: Adjective

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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

Adjective 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 The Minneapolis police chief's scathing rebuke earlier this week of the former officer who is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd was rare. NBC News, "Republicans point finger at blue states' voting laws, Chauvin case latest and Holocaust survivors' new campaign," 8 Apr. 2021 Fischetti also led the effort to get civil rights charges dismissed against former New York police officer Charles Schwarz, who was accused of the 1997 assault of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Graham Kates, CBS News, "Trump Organization hires criminal defense attorney," 8 Apr. 2021 Chauvin's trial reached its ninth day as the jury continues to gather information to deliver a verdict on whether the former Minneapolis police officer will be imprisoned on murder charges. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, "Pulmonologist says George Floyd died from a 'low level of oxygen'," 8 Apr. 2021 Harris, a former military police officer, corporate marketer and restauranteur, closed a rundown alternative school and a divisive magnet school, reset elementary school enrollment rules and built a middle school. Levi Pulkkinen, USA TODAY, "Suspensions, handcuffs, jail — middle school discipline falls heavily on vulnerable kids," 8 Apr. 2021 The murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, charged in George Floyd’s death, is continuing Thursday. Fox News, "LIVE UPDATES: Derek Chauvin trial continues Thursday," 8 Apr. 2021 George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen, which damaged his brain and caused his heart to stop, a medical expert testified Thursday at former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial., "Derek Chauvin trial: Chicago doctor testifies that George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen," 8 Apr. 2021 Floyd died last year in police custody after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned his knee on his neck for about nine minutes. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, "A true-crime app scraps plans to turn George Floyd’s killing into ‘an experience’," 8 Apr. 2021 Tariq Fancy is the former chief investment officer for sustainable investing at BlackRock, which manages nearly $9 trillion in assets. Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News, "Biden administration faces increasing calls to stop companies from 'greenwashing'," 8 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The former comes from the degradation of dead bacteria, and may offer surviving bacteria UV protection. Matt Simon, Wired, "Sun-Loving Bacteria May Be Accelerating Glacial Melting," 25 Jan. 2021 The former comes off selfish and suffers from a narrative lacking a true sense of urgency. Ariana Romero,, "Netflix’s Grand Army Is Triggering. It Will Also Be All Over Your Timeline," 17 Oct. 2020 Tensions between Cypress Creek EMS and Harris County Emergency Service District No. 11 flared up again as the former filed a lawsuit against the latter and threats of violence were made in a public meeting. Chevall Pryce, Houston Chronicle, "Cypress Creek EMS files lawsuit against Harris County ESD No. 11," 13 Oct. 2020 The former comes with a refrigerator that makes ice — a marked difference from the small ice packs that lined a dorm refrigerator in their previous rehearsal space. Domenica Bongiovanni, The Indianapolis Star, "After nearly 50 years, Indianapolis' oldest modern dance company gets its first home," 3 Aug. 2020 Things then went a bit nuts when both Araujo and Dembele - the former making his debut from the bench - saw red for individual moments of madness, but there would be no further consolation for Sevilla, as the score stayed at 4-0., "Barcelona 4-0 Sevilla: Report, Ratings and Reaction as Sensational Luis Suarez Strike Starts Rout," 6 Oct. 2019 There has been ongoing tension between North Korea and the U.S. over the former's nuclear program. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly in 'grave danger' after surgery," 20 Apr. 2020 The former led the list for one week, while Grateful posted two weeks in the penthouse. Trevor Anderson, Billboard, "DJ Khaled's 'Father of Asahd' Hits No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart," 6 June 2019 Four decades ago, Wiley Bolden brought forward a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Mobile’s black voters that alleged discrimination in the city’s then-commissioner former of government. al, "Mobile City Council, in vote along racial lines, says ‘No’ to annexation," 19 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for former

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for former

Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Former.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce former (audio) \

Kids Definition of former

: coming before in time a former president

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