pre·vi·ous | \ ˈprē-vē-əs \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Limitless Creations is partnering with the property’s previous owner, the Gonzales family, on the project, Melvin said. Richard Webner, San Antonio Express-News, "Condo towers would bring taste of New York to Tobin Hill," 13 July 2018 While the factory had never suffered a major fire, it had been neglected by its previous owners. Inga Saffron,, "A tale of two historic Philadelphia buildings: One rises from the ashes. The other falls to the wrecking ball.," 12 July 2018 According to Business Wire, the deal to take over the club took place after the previous owner of Milan defaulted on their debt obligations to Elliott, leaving the company with a need to enforce its security interests., "New Era at Milan as Ownership and Control of Club Passes to Elliott Advisors Limited," 11 July 2018 In their filing, lawyers for the Charleston newspaper pointed to that previous decision and the resulting story as an example of why the national distribution data should be released. Geoff Mulvihill, The Seattle Times, "News organizations push for opioid data to be made public," 9 July 2018 Repetitious arguments or revisiting previous decisions lengthens meetings. Kelly G. Richardson,, "HOA Homefront: Surefire steps to guarantee board meetings will last longer," 7 July 2018 The previous owner had lovingly maintained it, but there were still a few quirks. Tim Mckeough, New York Times, "In the Hudson Valley, a Home With Centuries’ Worth of Stories," 3 July 2018 The case, brought by Texas and several other Republican-dominated southern states, could contradict a previous court’s decision that halted Trump’s move to end DACA. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Why the GOP Might Face More Humiliation on Immigration," 2 July 2018 Dobi is used to being on furniture and slept in bed with his previous owner so keep this in mind when adopting. Peggy Calhoun, idahostatesman, "Ada County Pet of the Week: Dobi," 2 July 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about previous

Phrases Related to previous

the last/previous couple of

Statistics for previous

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for previous

The first known use of previous was in 1621

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for previous



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 \

Kids Definition of previous

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

Other words from previous

previously adverb

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on previous

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


an open space surrounded by woods

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!