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

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

With eight goals conceded in their previous two games, Jamaica will be desperate to prove what they are made of in this final game., "Women's World Cup - Matchday 12 Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Team News & More," 16 June 2019 After hitting 11 homers and scoring 20 runs in its previous two games, Boston managed only four singles through five innings before finally breaking through against Dylan Bundy (3-8) in the sixth., "Sale fans 10 to help resurgent Red Sox beat Orioles 7-2," 16 June 2019 Wieck was optioned on June 5, having allowed 11 runs in his previous 12 games (10 1/3 innings). San Diego Union-Tribune, "Padres notes: New Hosmer is old Hosmer; Strahm talks; dubious record in danger," 16 June 2019 Borg took a no-hitter into the sixth against Ocean View, which had not allowed a run in three previous tournament games. Matt Szabo,, "Costa Mesa American Little League tops Ocean View for District 62 Tournament of Champions Major title," 15 June 2019 What if Kevin Durant did not rupture his right Achilles tendon in the middle of Game 5 after missing nine previous games because of a strained right calf? Mark Medina, The Mercury News, "Warriors’ injuries became too much to overcome in Finals loss to Toronto," 14 June 2019 Bryant missed Wednesday’s finale against the Rockies after getting hit twice by pitches in the previous game, which ignited two players from the Cubs and Rockies getting hit by pitches. Mark Gonzales,, "Kris Bryant returns to the Cubs lineup vs. the Dodgers," 13 June 2019 What's intriguing about the teaser Nintendo released at the show is the huge tonal shift from the previous game. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Here's Everything Nintendo Did—and Didn't—Announce at E3," 12 June 2019 What was your experience with previous CD PROJEKT RED games? Evan Lewis,, "Keanu Reeves on Cyberpunk 2077, getting into gaming, John Wick, and more," 12 June 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.

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

Statistics for previous

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!