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 combinationsixth former

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for former

Synonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Campbell, a former lieutenant governor under previous Gov. Sean Parnell, has 35 years of aerospace experience in the U.S. Air Force and Alaska Air National Guard, the statement said. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "Governor fills board seats for Alaska Railroad and aerospace agency," 18 Sep. 2019 Nine people, mostly former union officials but also some executives of automakers Fiat Chrysler, pleaded guilty to charges in a conspiracy that included misappropriation of union funds and bribery of union officials by auto executives. Chris Isidore, CNN, "The GM strike was inevitable. How it will end isn't so clear," 17 Sep. 2019 The Bachelorette,’’ former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Lauren Alaina, Ally Brooke, Mary Wilson, and athletes Lamar Odom and Ray Lewis., "Christie Brinkley," 17 Sep. 2019 The festivities will reunite judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Aaron Sanchez with former winners including season 9’s Gerron Hurt, season 8’s Dino Angelo Luciano, season 7’s Shaun O’Neale, and season 1’s Whitney Miller. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "First look: MasterChef celebrates 200th episode with season 10 finale party," 17 Sep. 2019 Ben Hurley, a former Falun Gong practitioner who helped launch The Epoch Times in Australia, said editorial direction for the newspaper typically came from New York. Seth Hettena, The New Republic, "The Obscure Newspaper Fueling the Far-Right in Europe," 17 Sep. 2019 After catching five passes for 125 yards and a 69-yard score last week, the former Ohio State wideout added another 62 yards and a touchdown on five catches against the Cowboys on Sunday. Alaa Abdeldaiem,, "The Most Impressive NFL Rookies Through Two Weeks," 16 Sep. 2019 One of the top 10 candidates, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, has proposed confiscating assault-type weapons such as the AK-47 through a mandatory buyback program. Hope Yen, The Denver Post, "Associated Press fact check: Trump, Democrats and their tale of two countries," 14 Sep. 2019 One of the parties most closely watched in this election is Yisrael Beiteinu, founded and led by former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. Andrew Carey, CNN, "Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election plans in limbo as Israeli exit polls show tight contest," 17 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The latter drove the Jayhawks to a victory in Austin last month with 21 points and three assists while the former struggled down the stretch. Nick Moyle,, "Texas squanders halftime lead in another loss to Kansas," 3 Feb. 2020 Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Danny Drinkwater are definitely ruled out - the former could return next month, while former Premier League winner Drinkwater could return to action over the next couple of weeks., "Sheffield United vs Burnley Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News," 30 Oct. 2019 Enter Hilary and David, the former of whom went to work on renovating their original house with a $95,000 budget. Megan Stein, Country Living, "A 'Love It Or List It' Homeowner Called Hilary Farr a 'Bully' and It's Upsetting," 7 Dec. 2019 Interstate-95 will be the first meeting between Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Texans' Deshaun Watson since the latter's Clemson Tigers outlasted the former's Louisville Cardinals 42-36 in a college classic from 2016. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "USA TODAY Sports' Week 11 NFL picks: Do Patriots win Super Bowl LII rematch with Eagles?," 15 Nov. 2019 Atalanta will be without talisman Duvan Zupata and centre-back Andrea Masiello due to injuries, but will be buoyed by Luis Muriel's incredible goalscoring form in the former's absence., "Napoli vs Atalanta Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News," 29 Oct. 2019 According to experts who've compared the transactions costs of paying via Bitcoin versus credit cards, the former would cut the current interchange fee by around 75%. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Will the Bakkt Launch Help Bitcoin Go Mainstream?," 20 Sep. 2019 Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon and Pittsburgh’s James Conner are top-level starters, as the former led the AFC in rushing yards and the latter made it the Pro Bowl last season. Jonas Shaffer,, "AFC North position rankings: Browns offense brimming with talent, but Ravens have made gains," 10 July 2019 In her interview scenes with the journalist reporting on the formers strippers’ crimes, Wu’s character is cloaked in white. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "How Hustlers Captured the Excesses of Pre-Recession Fashion," 17 Sep. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about former

Time Traveler for former

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for former

Cite this Entry

“Former.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for former


How to pronounce former (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on former

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for former

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with former

Spanish Central: Translation of former

Nglish: Translation of former for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of former for Arabic Speakers

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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