for·​mer·​ly | \ ˈfȯr-mər-lē How to pronounce formerly (audio) , ˈfȯr-mə-\

Definition of formerly

1 : at an earlier time : previously
2 obsolete : just before

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Synonyms for formerly


erstwhile, once, onetime

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Examples of formerly in a Sentence

He was formerly a congressman. the newspaper formerly known as “The Newsprint”

Recent Examples on the Web

Gourmet’s editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, formerly the restaurant critic... Moira Hodgson, WSJ, "‘Save Me the Plums’ Review: A Plum Job in the Big Apple," 19 Apr. 2019 Other features have been preserved simply by happenstance—16 copper statues that formerly decorated the spire were removed on April 11 to aid the renovation effort. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "What Caused the Massive Fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral?," 16 Apr. 2019 Earlier in the month, the Interior Department brought in Bill Vajda, formerly CIO for Alaska’s state government, as its IT chief. Angus Loten, WSJ, "Ex-Johnson & Johnson CIO Named State Department IT Chief," 1 Apr. 2019 Christina Anstead, formerly El Moussa, has been full of surprises in the past few months. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "When Is Christina El Moussa and Ant Anstead's Baby Due?," 26 Mar. 2019 The venue, a large open space that was formerly a train shed, is now known as The Round House Theatre. Carmen Rosy Hall, Vogue, "Natalia Vodianova Puts the Fabulous in Her Fabulous Fund Fair With Vuitton, Dior, and Stella McCartney Goodies Up for Grabs," 20 Feb. 2019 Waymo, which was formerly a division of Alphabet subsidiary Google, has been allowed under state law to operate autonomous cars since 2014. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Waymo gets green light from California DMV: AVs in some cities are ok," 30 Oct. 2018 In six weeks, Aloft Orlando Downtown has found forever homes for Dante, Lily, Lucky, Bruno, Roxy, Lil’ Bit — and a half-dozen other formerly homeless dogs from the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. Kate Santich,, "Orlando hotel's dog-adoption program off to "awesome" start," 10 July 2018 Armenia’s bloodless revolution has so far avoided the aggressive response from Moscow that met the overthrow of authority in other formerly Soviet republics, notably Ukraine and Georgia, although that could change. Washington Post, "Armenia’s opposition leader named prime minister, and his supporters erupt in cheers," 12 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'formerly.' 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 formerly

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for formerly

Last Updated

27 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for formerly

The first known use of formerly was in 1534

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More Definitions for formerly



English Language Learners Definition of formerly

: at an earlier time : in the past


for·​mer·​ly | \ ˈfȯr-mər-lē How to pronounce formerly (audio) \

Kids Definition of formerly

: at an earlier time They were formerly friends.

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More from Merriam-Webster on formerly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with formerly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for formerly

Spanish Central: Translation of formerly

Nglish: Translation of formerly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of formerly for Arabic Speakers

Comments on formerly

What made you want to look up formerly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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