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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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 Instead, Lee recently appointed a former U.S. attorney to lead an independent investigation and also paused four other executions scheduled this year. Fox News, 14 May 2022 Mastriano was already leading a crowded field of contenders, and the former president's endorsement puts him on even stronger footing heading into Tuesday's primary. Marc Levy, ajc, 14 May 2022 Numerous world leaders have tested positive for Covid-19 during the pandemic including former U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump in 2020 before vaccines were available. Stephen Wright, WSJ, 14 May 2022 Last year, a version of the claim referenced a trip to see former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago rather than the White House. Ana Faguy, USA TODAY, 13 May 2022 My colleagues on Thursday are hosting a live chat about the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial, featuring Emily D. Baker, the former L.A. deputy district attorney who has been tracking the defamation case. Justin Raystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 Neil Barofsky, a former assistant U.S. attorney, was approved as the monitor last year by federal Judge David Lawson. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, 12 May 2022 Paul Ahler, who was chief deputy under former County Attorney Rick Romley, will act as Mitchell’s chief deputy as well. Perry Vandell, The Arizona Republic, 12 May 2022 Dale Bryant, Casey's former attorney, told Newsweek via email that Vicky was likely the mastermind behind the escape. Grayson Quay, The Week, 12 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The former comes with six Xe-cores and six ray-tracing units. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 30 Mar. 2022 If Anything Happens — the former follows a gay Afghan refugee’s journey to Europe as a teenager and the latter is about parents grieving the loss of a child killed in a school shooting — were not the easiest sales to publishers. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Mar. 2022 It's been a close race between Kodi Smit-McPhee and Troy Kotsur, and more branch-hopping support for Dog versus CODA was thought to work in the former's favor at one point. Joey Nolfi,, 8 Mar. 2022 The former seemed to rise up for a floater, but instead pushed a lob to the center, who threw it down. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Feb. 2022 Meanwhile, Maluma and Kardashian's ex Scott Disick started a fake argument over Twitter to promote the former's latest music video. Heran Mamo, Billboard, 9 July 2021 The former comes with 256 gigabytes of storage while the latter has 512 gigabytes, but both are foldable and include a full HD display. Nina Huang,, 22 June 2021 This 16-piece option comes with many of the same pieces that are included in the 15-piece set (the former comes with eight steak knives instead of six and two different paring knives over the 15-piece's honing steel). Melissa Lee, USA TODAY, 14 Apr. 2021 The former comes from the degradation of dead bacteria, and may offer surviving bacteria UV protection. Matt Simon, Wired, 25 Jan. 2021 See More

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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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Former.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for former


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

Kids Definition of former

: coming before in time a former president

More from Merriam-Webster on former

Nglish: Translation of former for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of former for Arabic Speakers


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