prior

noun
pri·​or | \ˈprī(-ə)r \

Definition of prior 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the superior ranking next to the abbot of a monastery

2 : the superior of a house or group of houses of any of various religious communities

prior

adjective

Definition of prior (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : earlier in time or order

2 : taking precedence (as in importance)

Prior

biographical name
\ˈprī(-ə)r \

Definition of Prior (Entry 3 of 3)

Matthew 1664–1721 English poet

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Other Words from prior

Noun

priorate \ˈprī-​ə-​rət \ noun
priorship \ˈprī(-​ə)r-​ˌship \ noun

Adjective

priorly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for prior

Adjective

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 prior in a Sentence

Adjective

Do you have a prior history of back problems? The job requires prior experience in advertising. The defendant had a prior record of convictions. I'm sorry, but we have a prior commitment and can't come tonight. We have a prior claim to the estate.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Stevens also didn’t have a driver’s license and was found to have two DUI priors in Missouri. Fox News, "Drunk driver says he only drank when his car wasn't moving," 10 July 2018 Stevens also didn’t have a driver’s license and was found to have two DUI priors in Missouri. Fox News, "Drunk driver says he only drank when his car wasn't moving," 11 July 2018 The chief justice also does have legitimate philosophical priors about respecting precedent and issuing the narrowest possible opinions. Dylan Scott, Vox, "John Roberts is the Supreme Court’s new swing vote. Is he going to overturn Roe v. Wade?," 9 July 2018 The sentence imposed on the gun-use allegation also was tripled, and five years were added because of Royal’s serious felony priors. Pauline Repard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Man sent to prison for 105 years for 2007 Spring Valley murder," 13 July 2018 The suspect was charged with burglary of a motor vehicle with 2 priors, evading on foot, and felon in possession of a weapon. Houston Chronicle, "Bellaire Police report," 21 May 2018 The sheriff says Greenwood had taken drugs the night before and had no priors. Madeleine Marr, miamiherald, "He ducked into an airport bathroom and emerged naked. That's when the chaos started. | Miami Herald," 11 May 2018 Individuals with no strong political priors seem not to have been swayed in either direction. Leonid Peisakhin, Washington Post, "When does Russian propaganda work — and when does it backfire? Here’s what we found.," 3 Apr. 2018 Its priors, which had generated the prediction, had proved trustworthy in the past; and sometimes the information coming from the eyes wasn’t reliable. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Mind-Expanding Ideas of Andy Clark," 26 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Ayers' prior experience has proved highly valuable with Bloodhound SSC. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Bloodhound SSC: How do you build a car capable of 1,000mph?," 24 Nov. 2018 Cowell also had prior arrests that include assault with a deadly weapon, the East Bay Times reported. Lorin Eleni Gill, The Seattle Times, "Suspect arrested in Oakland train station stabbing attack," 23 July 2018 The prosecutor also noted Mikula’s frequent trips to Maine and his prior arrests for credit card fraud and gun offenses. Jerome Campbell, BostonGlobe.com, "East Boston man ordered held on $200,000 bail on explosive charges after apartment blast," 9 July 2018 If was unclear Monday if either of Lindsey’s prior arrests involved the same woman who called Orlando police about 11:45 p.m. Sunday. Jeff Weiner, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Hostage standoff in Orlando: Who is suspected police shooter Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr.?," 11 June 2018 Saudi Arabia has denied that Prince Mohammed had any prior knowledge of the killing. Vivian Salama, WSJ, "Trump Says Report on Khashoggi Killing Coming Early in the Week," 17 Nov. 2018 But their prior management experience was one of the reasons investors were wary of investing in HQ. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "HQ Trivia was a blockbuster hit — but internal turmoil and a shrinking audience have pushed it to the brink," 5 Nov. 2018 All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. Fox News, "McConnell on marshalling the votes to confirm Kavanaugh," 7 Oct. 2018 It’s hard to imagine watching Eve without any prior knowledge of Mary and not getting immensely confused. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Iron Fist is better in season 2. It still needs work.," 6 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prior.' 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 prior

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prior

Noun

Middle English, from Old English & Anglo-French; both from Medieval Latin, from Late Latin, administrator, from Latin, former, superior

Adjective

Latin, former, superior; akin to Latin priscus ancient, prae before — more at for

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Learn More about prior

Dictionary Entries near prior

prion protein

Prionurus

prionus

prior

Prior

priorable

prioral

Statistics for prior

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prior

The first known use of prior was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for prior

prior

noun

English Language Learners Definition of prior

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a monk who is the head of a religious house or order

: a priest whose rank is just below that of an abbot

: a previous time of being arrested for or found guilty of a crime

prior

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of prior (Entry 2 of 2)

: existing earlier in time

: more important than something else because it came first

prior

noun
pri·​or | \ˈprī-ər \

Kids Definition of prior

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a monk who is head of a religious house

prior

adjective

Kids Definition of prior (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : being or happening before something else a prior date prior experience

2 : being more important than something else a prior claim

prior to

: before entry 2 sense 2 The project must be finished prior to July.

prior

adjective
pri·​or | \ˈprī-ər\

Legal Definition of prior 

1 : earlier in time or order

2 : taking precedence (as in importance) a prior lien

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More from Merriam-Webster on prior

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prior

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prior

Spanish Central: Translation of prior

Nglish: Translation of prior for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prior for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prior

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