prior

noun
pri·​or | \ ˈprī(-ə)r How to pronounce prior (audio) \

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 How to pronounce Prior (audio) \

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 How to pronounce priorate (audio) \ noun
priorship \ ˈprī(-​ə)r-​ˌship How to pronounce priorship (audio) \ 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

What emerges most powerfully here is the refusal of this proud steed of technocratic managerialism to engage with new circumstances, even as many in his own liberal camp reevaluate their priors. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, "The Sameness of Cass Sunstein," 20 June 2019 There is nothing about Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy or ideological priors that Flake finds objectionable. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh is Jeff Flake’s most important test," 3 Oct. 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," 10 July 2018 Plenty of people learn more only to better serve their priors. David Roberts, Vox, "My advice for aspiring explainer journalists," 9 Dec. 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," 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Going off of the prior movies and their timeline, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is still living and working at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) himself. Rachel Paige, refinery29.com, "This Is (Kinda) Where Dark Phoenix Fits, Chronologically, In The X-Men Movie Timeline," 8 June 2019 Simmons and Moore were given harsher sentences because of prior convictions. Laurel Weibezahn, sun-sentinel.com, "Cross-dressing robbers sentenced for stick-ups," 7 June 2019 That has happened with Shevchenko’s prior opponents, who almost psych themselves out getting ready for the fight–only to have Shevchenko execute in the cage at will. Justin Barrasso, SI.com, "Top Five Storylines Heading Into UFC 238," 7 June 2019 Under the prior tax code, a company making a $100 renovation could deduct that cost over a 15-year period, making the deduction worth about $84 in present value. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "Why Whataburger, J.C. Penney and other Texas businesses are crying foul over this goof in 2017 tax revamp," 7 June 2019 Baines was arrested and charged with theft with two or more prior convictions (State Jail Felony) and Possession of Marijuana (Class B Misdemeanor). Karen Zurawski, Houston Chronicle, "Women face theft charges after Katy police operation," 7 June 2019 The court cited a prior ruling in which the Milwaukee Police Department tried to pass off an analog copy of a digital 911 call as meeting the requirements of being substantially the same as the original. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Legislator must provide emails in electronic form under Open Records law, Appeals Court rules," 5 June 2019 With the tribute, Bandier joins just three prior honorees: SHOF chairman emeritus Hal David, former BMI CEO Del Bryant and former ASCAP chief John A. Lofrumento. Billboard, "Justin Timberlake, Halsey, Missy Elliott & More Share Stories Behind Their Biggest Hits," 4 June 2019 Apple doesn’t disclose exact figures for Apple Watch sales, revealing only that revenue of all its wearables, audio gear, and other accessory items totaled $20.4 billion for the past year through the end of March, up 33% from the prior 12 months. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "WWDC 2019: How the Apple Watch Is Breaking Free From the iPhone," 4 June 2019

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

25 Jun 2019

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
US, informal : 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
formal : more important than something else because it came first

prior

noun
pri·​or | \ ˈprī-ər How to pronounce prior (audio) \

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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