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 In at least one of the previous cases, it was later determined those arrested were not linked to the massacre. Fox News, "Mexican cartel massacre suspects arrested in attack that left 9 Americans dead, government says," 3 Dec. 2019 Somalia will look at Houston’s previous steps as an example of managing a transformational reserve. Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed, Houston Chronicle, "Opinion: Could Somalia become the next Texas?," 2 Dec. 2019 Oregon Central Coast’s Senate District 5: Arnie Roblan, 71, a Democrat elected to two terms in this Senate seat after five previous terms in the Oregon House, will step down at the end of 2020. Hillary Borrud | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Oregon Legislature will have at least 15 open seats in 2020," 2 Dec. 2019 Inspectors had pointed out many of these hazards in a previous report but the facility had failed to fix them, according to the commission. Rory Linnane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Winnebago Mental Health Institute, the state's psychiatric hospital, is short more than 100 staff as it seeks another new director," 2 Dec. 2019 The unnamed third narrator is a systems engineer who, dismissed from his previous job, secures a temp assignment at the factory proofreading documents. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "The Factory Is a Chilling Account of the Contemporary Workplace," 2 Dec. 2019 The most useful ratings are those a person can use at the most relevant time – finding out about previous buyers’ experiences with a seller when considering making an online purchase, for instance. Alan R. Dennis, The Conversation, "Rating news sources can help limit the spread of misinformation," 2 Dec. 2019 According to a Carroll Arts Center news release, previous festivals have generated an average of $25,000 per year. Akira Kyles,, "Festival of Wreaths raises funds for Carroll Arts Center, ‘brings joy’ for community," 1 Dec. 2019 His pass on a two-point conversion to running back Patrick Laird, who scored his first rushing touchdown on the previous play, gave the Dolphins a 34-28 lead with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Safid Deen,, "Dolphins topple Eagles to win third game of season, lose chance to move up to No. 3 in NFL draft order," 1 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for previous

Time Traveler

The first known use of previous was in 1621

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Statistics for previous

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Previous.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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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

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


easily led, controlled, or managed

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