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

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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Announced Wednesday and due to ship April 10, the All-new Kindle starts at $89.99 with Special Offers (ads) enabled—$10 more than the starting price for the prior generation. Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld, "Amazon's All-new Kindle for $89.99 is priced for budget users," 20 Mar. 2019 The company’s net profit fell 13% to $213 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2018, compared with $245 million in the prior-year period. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "Car-Rental Company Avis Names New Finance Chief," 19 Feb. 2019 His retirement and other deferred compensation for 2016 fell by $200,000 compared to the amount reported for him in 2015 and each of the prior four years. Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY, "NCAA's Mark Emmert got a nearly $500,000 raise to $2.4 million in compensation in 2016," 21 June 2018 Additional revenue reflects a $1.5 million prior year surplus and an anticipated $528,000 increase in tax revenue as the result of increases in occupational taxes and building permits. Karen Huppertz, ajc, "Snellville approves $13.4 million budget for 2018-2019," 15 June 2018 In 2017, only 2,670 employees took buyouts, and in the prior two years just 3,886 and 2,916. Eric Yoder, Washington Post, "Q&A for federal workers: Bigger buyouts may be on the way," 12 June 2018 The first procedure failed and doctors had to reoperate, this time going through the skull (a much more invasive surgery than her prior ones). Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Game of Thrones’s Emilia Clarke Speaks Out About Surviving Two Brain Aneurysms," 21 Mar. 2019 When his bosses questioned him about his actions, Espinosa told them he had no prior contact with MacIntyre, according to Ranelletti’s termination letter. Kimberly Veklerov, SFChronicle.com, "Oakland finds likely collusion between inspector, property owner in eviction," 1 July 2018 Due to a prior owner's renovation of the apartment's original 1928 design , there wasn't a need for any construction. Amanda Sims, House Beautiful, "You'll Want to Borrow This Napping Nook for Your Own Home," 20 Feb. 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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Dictionary Entries near prior

prion protein

Prionurus

prionus

prior

Prior

priorable

prioral

Statistics for prior

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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

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