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

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 When asked whether Republicans would support a supplemental spending package to help combat the latest Covid wave, Scalise said that there is still $800 billion in unspent money from previous Covid relief packages. Melanie Zanona, CNN, 19 Jan. 2022 How different was making After the Fall as opposed to your previous zombie VR game, Arizona Sunshine? Josh Chesler, SPIN, 19 Jan. 2022 McLeod, who entered the game with previous career highs of six points and four rebounds, soared past both those marks within the first few minutes of the second half. Curt Weiler, USA TODAY, 19 Jan. 2022 The executive’s previous roles have included senior VP of sales at Dynamic Television and president of international sales at Echo Bridge. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 19 Jan. 2022 At a hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in London, Baker, 43, was sentenced to 42 years in prison, but he was credited for 30 months served on the previous conviction. Dylan Lovan, ajc, 19 Jan. 2022 The bill, known as the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, is a combination of previous legislation in Congress. Ryan Tarinelli, Arkansas Online, 19 Jan. 2022 Instead, newer technologies such as mRNA vaccines raced ahead, even though Bottazzi and Hotez’s vaccine design was more advanced, thanks to their previous work during the 2003 SARS and 2012 MERS outbreaks. Maureen Ferran, The Conversation, 19 Jan. 2022 This analysis comes after two previous reports from Bot Sentinel, both of which revealed the extent to which Meghan hate accounts have impacted news coverage. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 19 Jan. 2022

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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Dictionary Entries Near previous



previous examination

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Statistics for previous

Last Updated

21 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Previous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2022.

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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 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

More from Merriam-Webster on previous

Nglish: Translation of previous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of previous for Arabic Speakers


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