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

Rivers has started every one of the Chargers' previous 208 regular-season games, tied for the third-longest streak among quarterbacks in NFL history. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Philip Rivers living his dream as an NFL quarterback," 15 July 2019 Broken glass and abandoned belongings tell the story of the previous residents’ violent exit. Liz Shannon Miller, The Verge, "Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale is a model of longform worldbuilding," 15 July 2019 The agenda item for the pay raise also did not list Reyer’s previous salary nor the amount of her raise. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "Shenandoah OKs $7,500-per year raise for city administrator," 15 July 2019 And unlike millennials who are scraping together cash for a first home, these older buyers have more money and experience from the sale of a previous home. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "Dallas' is a top housing market for baby-chasing boomers," 15 July 2019 Immigration experts say the new rule breaks laws written by Congress and signed by previous presidents. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Trump’s latest plan to deny asylum seekers protection is illegal," 15 July 2019 Within an hour or so of selling its first morning bun, the location had a line stretching through its doors and out toward its metallic gate, a remnant of the address’ previous tenant, the Standard Roofing Company. Justin Phillips,, "New Sunset District outpost is future model for Tartine Bakery," 15 July 2019 This lines up with previous statements made by director J.J. Abrams and others about the tone of the movie, and also rumors that Rey, Finn, and Poe would spend the majority of the movie together. Graeme Mcmillan, WIRED, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," 15 July 2019 Despite his aggressive rhetoric, Trump’s overall removal numbers during his first two years in office pale in comparison with those of the previous administration. Andrea Castillo,, "Long-threatened ICE raids set to begin amid questions and protests," 14 July 2019

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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Statistics for previous

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for previous

The first known use of previous was in 1621

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on previous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with previous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for previous

Spanish Central: Translation of previous

Nglish: Translation of previous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of previous for Arabic Speakers

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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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