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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for former

Synonyms: Adjective

erstwhile, late, old, once, onetime, other, past, quondam, sometime, whilom

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


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 network was protected by corrupt policemen, and the son of a former senior police official served as the lynchpin between the Chinese and Pakistani operatives, the officials said. Fox News, "Sold into marriage, Pakistani women endure rapes in China," 17 June 2019 The network was protected by corrupt policemen, and the son of a former senior police official served as the lynchpin between the Chinese and Pakistani operatives, the officials said. Washington Post, "Sold into marriage, Pakistani women endure rapes in China," 17 June 2019 Mack hopes to soon join Hill and Oden and all the other current and former NBA players who toiled and sacrificed to get their college degrees. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Shelvin Mack is still a Butler student cramming for tests, even as he plays in NBA," 17 June 2019 There's a friend of mine in Tucson, a former soap star named Rick Edwards. Samantha Incorvaia, azcentral, "'Oh hi, Mark': Why 'The Room' star Greg Sestero says he's an 'Arizona guy'," 16 June 2019 The Times obtained an image of a new $20 bill, produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, from a former Treasury Department official. Drew Broach,, "See a Harriet Tubman $20 bill designed under Obama and delayed under Trump: report," 15 June 2019 The school held a memorial Monday for Hunt, with dozens of current and former students, parents, colleagues and community members in attendance. Paul Johnson, Elgin Courier-News, "'I couldn't believe he wasn't here': Bartlett's girls basketball players react to the death of coach Brad Hunt," 15 June 2019 In the comics, Patsy is a former child star (just like on the show) and did not start out as a superhero. Rachel Paige,, "What Exactly Are Trish's Powers In Jessica Jones Season 3?," 15 June 2019 The event featured current and former NFL stars and some pop culture personalities, too, and included a home run derby and a game between teams captained by Landry and Steelers cornerback Joe Haden. Dan Labbe,, "Shawne Merriman sees greatness in Browns defensive end Myles Garrett," 15 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Never belonged to anyone, the subterra-formers, the engineers or post-military and all their kin who populate the Hive. Smith Henderson, Popular Mechanics, "Olympia," 20 Nov. 2017 Advertising Returning next year are will-be juniors Hameir Wright and Nahziah Carter, the former of whom started 26 games for UW this season, and the latter of whom scored in double figures 15 times, including twice in the tournament. Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times, "One sad day doesn’t change the solid foundation these Huskies have built," 24 Mar. 2019 That’s because studies showing a link between digital technology and depression don’t necessarily prove that the former caused the latter. Jessica Wapner, SELF, "How Worried Do You Really Need to Be About Your Screen Time?," 7 Feb. 2019 Both versions of the story pits Fox News against one of its formers stars. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Kimberly Guilfoyle allegedly left Fox News amid accusations of sexual misconduct," 27 July 2018 The former opened right in the village in 1993 and doesn’t require reservations for tastings; ideal for spontaneity. Elizabeth Wellington, Vogue, "This French Island Is the Nantucket of the Mediterranean," 16 Aug. 2018 Neolithic structures in the area, like the Carreg Coetan Arthur, bare a similarity to Stonehenge, although lacking in the former's complexity. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The People Who Built Stonehenge Came From Wales," 3 Aug. 2018 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

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

Statistics for former

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for former

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on former

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with former

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
True or False

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

Syn City

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!