prior

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

Definition of prior

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : earlier in time or order
2 : taking precedence (as in importance)

prior

noun
plural priors

Definition of prior (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : the superior ranking next to the abbot of a monastery
b : the superior of a house or group of houses of any of various religious communities
2 US law enforcement, informal : a previous instance of arrest or conviction for a crime He had been told that burglary, like auto theft, rarely drew a state prison term, unless you had lots of priors.— Joseph Wambaugh

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

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: Adjective Upboarding assumes less about users’ prior experience, and explains more. Katie Deighton, WSJ, "Google Rethinks App Design for Internet Novices," 21 Oct. 2020 All the previous opponents have their own wrinkles with their specific systems, but that prior experience against the formation gives Hackworth and the team an outline for how to attack it. Jonathan Saxon, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville City FC's coach grew up cheering for Tampa Bay. Now, he's prepping to beat them," 20 Oct. 2020 Ausmus' only prior experience came as a field executive for the San Diego Padres from 2011-13, after his 18-year playing career ended in 2010. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, "Why Don Kelly is a solid candidate for Detroit Tigers, and different from Brad Ausmus," 9 Oct. 2020 In a year when everything is unprecedented and the hierarchy of college football is scrambled due to frequent cancelations and upsets, having any sort of prior experience is a major advantage. Scott Bell, Dallas News, "Red River Showdown predictions: Staffers split on outcome of annual battle between Texas and Oklahoma," 9 Oct. 2020 No prior experience with this kind of work necessary! Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "This Company Will Pay You to Make TikToks of Your Dog," 8 Oct. 2020 His prior law enforcement experience had been working as a jailer with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office for about five months. Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, "Jonathan Price offered handshake, asked officer if he was 'doing good,' affidavit shows," 8 Oct. 2020 However, her prior experience with the team — which returns a large group of upperclassmen who previously played under Edmonds — is expected to help this transition. Julia Poe, orlandosentinel.com, "Orlando Pride midfielder Kristen Edmonds named Lake Highland Prep girls soccer head coach," 8 Oct. 2020 Most of them work out of their California homes, and some have no prior woodworking experience. Washington Post, "California man finds a new passion in building desks for at-home learners," 2 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Unfortunately, Altschul fails to convincingly imagine how a young, middle-class American Jewish woman, whatever her priors, could make the leap to armed struggle. Alex Cuadros, New York Times, "Step 1: Move to Peru. Step 2: Join the Marxist Struggle.," 10 Mar. 2020 His priors included counts of lewd acts upon a child, possession for sale of crack, domestic violence and vehicle theft. Evan Sernoffsky, San Francisco Chronicle, "Did Kevin Epps kill in self-defense?," 21 Feb. 2020 Curtis Thornton was a first-time offender with no priors, and nobody was hurt in the arsons, but Jones sentenced him to 100 years in prison. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al, "Judge makes statement in corruption case," 30 Oct. 2019 In June, Begin's attorney appealed the sentence, arguing that 40 to 60 years in prison would be more appropriate for a man of his age with no priors and that his 120-year sentence was inappropriate. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "Court denies sentence appeal from Southern Indiana man convicted of molesting 20 girls," 30 Oct. 2019 Facing up to life in prison with his priors, Morales agreed to plead guilty, serve a three-year sentence and, upon completion, be deported to his birth country: South Korea. Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times, "South Korea born, East L.A. bred: A Seoul taqueria for a homesick chef," 16 Oct. 2019 In other words, being hallucination-prone went along with perceptual priors having a stronger effect on perception. Anil K. Seth, Scientific American, "The Neuroscience of Reality," 27 Aug. 2019 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 There's a lot of research on 'motivated reasoning' including my work that finds people apply less scrutiny to information that affirms their priors and more scrutiny to information that contradicts them. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Trump's lies are getting bolder and the press is stuck in the middle," 25 July 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

Adjective

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

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

History and Etymology for prior

Adjective

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

Noun

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

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Time Traveler for prior

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for prior

Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prior.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prior. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for prior

prior

adjective
How to pronounce Prior (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prior

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: existing earlier in time
formal : more important than something else because it came first

prior

noun

English Language Learners Definition of prior (Entry 2 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

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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Comments on prior

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