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 The previous measures shut down bars completely and brought indoor restaurant capacity to 25% until Aug. 12. Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, "DeWine negative, tax-free weekend in Ohio, Kentucky bars - What we know," 7 Aug. 2020 The previous measures shut down bars completely and brought indoor restaurant capacity to 25% until Aug. 12. Dahlia Ghabour, The Courier-Journal, "Gov. Andy Beshear mandates 10 p.m. last call curfew for restaurants, bars across Kentucky," 6 Aug. 2020 This will be the fifth straight year with above normal numbers of tropical systems, which surpassed the previous record of four years in a row between 1998 and 2001. Mark Schleifstein,, "'Extremely active' 2020 hurricane season could see 25 named storms: NOAA," 6 Aug. 2020 The previous record for the county was 187, recorded Wednesday and on April 7. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: August 1-2," 5 Aug. 2020 That shattered California's previous grim record of 159, set just a week earlier. Holly Yan, CNN, "In much of the US, progress made in the Covid-19 fight has turned into progress lost," 3 Aug. 2020 The previous record was Irene on August 7th back in 2005. Paul Douglas, Star Tribune, "Feels Like Mid-September Through Early Next Week," 1 Aug. 2020 The previous record was Irene on August 7, 2005, Klotzbach tweeted. CBS News, "Tropical Storm Isaias on verge of becoming hurricane," 31 July 2020 There were a record seven S&P 500 stocks with four-digit share prices, up from five, the previous record, at year-end 2019. Allan Sloan, Washington Post, "What lies behind Apple’s 4-for-1 stock split," 31 July 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

12 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Previous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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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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