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 But exactly what happened next remains unclear in part because the responding officers didn’t activate their body cameras until after McCree, a Black father and former high school football star, was gunned down in a hail of police bullets. NBC News, "Police fired 24 shots at a handcuffed man. Why didn't they turn on their body cameras?," 2 May 2021 In a move Rodgers viewed as somewhat of a slight last year, Green Bay spent its first-round pick on former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, who had essentially been tabbed as Rodgers' successor. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Aaron Rodgers wants Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst out, per report," 1 May 2021 The 49ers used their pick to select the former North Dakota State quarterback Thursday night after completing a blockbuster trade in March with the Miami Dolphins to jump from their original No. 12 position in the draft to No. 3. oregonlive, "San Francisco 49ers pull off mild surprise; select quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL draft," 30 Apr. 2021 Smith will now team with former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, who enters his second year in the NFL. Mark Heim |, al, "NFL Draft: DeVonta Smith Philadelphia Eagles jersey now for sale," 30 Apr. 2021 Christensen was instrumental in protecting Wilson, covering the former BYU quarterback’s blind side. Norma Gonzalez, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Former BYU left tackle Brady Christensen picked up early in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft," 30 Apr. 2021 The Chicago Bears, originally scheduled to pick 20th, moved up to No. 11 to select Fields, the former Ohio State quarterback. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, "NFL Draft 2021: What if the Colts got Justin Fields instead of Carson Wentz?," 30 Apr. 2021 Governor Charlie Baker on Friday drew comparisons between former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Mac Jones, the signal caller whom the Pats selected in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night., "Baker says Mac Jones has similar story to Tom Brady, and ‘that story is constantly being underestimated’," 30 Apr. 2021 Another story involving a quarterback got a lot of attention before the NFL draft Friday night, but this one involves a former quarterback potentially making a return to the league - as a tight end. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, "NFL draft updates: Aaron Rodgers, Tim Tebow set NFL world abuzz before 2021 NFL draft," 29 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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, "The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Tuesday," 14 Apr. 2021 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

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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Former.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 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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Comments on former

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