pre·​vi·​ous | \ ˈprē-vē-əs How to pronounce previous (audio) \

Definition of previous

1 : going before in time or order : prior the previous owners previous attempts had failed reread the previous page
2 : acting too soon : premature somewhat previous in his conclusion

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Other Words from previous

previously adverb
Physicists have constructed a pipette that dispenses a billionth of a trillionth of a liter, a droplet that's a thousand times as small as volumes previously achieved. — A. Cunningham Previously, many mutations have been induced by harsh treatments such as X rays, UV light or chemicals. — Kevin Struhl
previousness noun
Had I been capable of looking closer then, I might have asked myself why every kind of previousness miraculously survived there … — Robyn Davidson

Choose the Right Synonym for previous

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 previous in a Sentence

She has a child from a previous marriage. The two characters met in a previous chapter. the previous owners of the house
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Recent Examples on the Web Georgia election officials said turnout Tuesday shattered the previous record for a run-off in the state, including more than 3 million who voted early. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, "Georgia's Senate runoffs: Ossoff surges ahead as Warnock makes history with runoff victory," 6 Jan. 2021 There were 1,296 covid-19 patients in the hospital Monday, breaking the previous record of 1,234 set Sunday. Jeannie Roberts, Arkansas Online, "State covid hospitalizations reach record high," 5 Jan. 2021 The state reported more than 17,200 new cases on Sunday, the highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day since the pandemic began, toppling the state's previous record from Dec. 8 by nearly 5,000 cases. Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, "COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arizona hit record highs as state reports over 5,100 new cases," 5 Jan. 2021 That far outstrips the previous record of 66,726 logged on Dec. 28. Amina Khan Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus Today: The front-line workers turning down the vaccine," 5 Jan. 2021 Lockett set a new franchise single-season record with 100 receptions, breaking the previous record of 94 set by Doug Baldwin (2016) and Bobby Engram (2007). oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks stage fourth-quarter rally to defeat the San Francisco 49ers: Live updates recap, score, stats and more," 3 Jan. 2021 But Boudin’s policy shift toward grand juries — a marked change from previous district attorney administrations — is raising concerns among defense attorneys, who, along with their clients, are shut out of grand jury proceedings. Megan Cassidy,, "Chesa Boudin, in policy shift, seeks to clear case backlog by leaning more on grand juries for charges," 1 Jan. 2021 In contrast, when Milwaukee set its previous homicide record of 165 in 1991, the city was still in the throes of the crack epidemic and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was finally apprehended. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee's historic year of violence concludes with 189 people killed in homicides," 1 Jan. 2021 Under previous administrations, whether Democratic or Republican, people broadly trusted CDC and FDA recommendations, Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told me. Melody Schreiber, The New Republic, "How to Restore the Glory of Government Science," 21 Dec. 2020

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

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for previous

Latin praevius leading the way, from prae- pre- + via way — more at way

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Time Traveler for previous

Time Traveler

The first known use of previous was in 1621

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Statistics for previous

Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Previous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for previous


How to pronounce previous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of previous

: existing or happening before the present time
: earlier in time or order
: immediately before in time or order


pre·​vi·​ous | \ ˈprē-vē-əs How to pronounce previous (audio) \

Kids Definition of previous

: going before in time or order : preceding No previous experience is needed.

Other Words from previous

previously adverb

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Comments on previous

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