Synonym Chooser

How is the word former distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of former are antecedent, anterior, foregoing, preceding, previous, and prior. While all these words mean "being before," former implies always a definite comparison or contrast with something that is latter.

the former name of the company

When would antecedent be a good substitute for former?

The synonyms antecedent and former are sometimes interchangeable, but antecedent applies to order in time and may suggest a causal relation.

conditions antecedent to the revolution

When could anterior be used to replace former?

The meanings of anterior and former largely overlap; however, anterior applies to position before or ahead of usually in space, sometimes in time or order.

the anterior lobe of the brain

When is foregoing a more appropriate choice than former?

The words foregoing and former are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, foregoing applies chiefly to statements.

the foregoing remarks

When can preceding be used instead of former?

While the synonyms preceding and former are close in meaning, preceding usually implies being immediately before in time or in place.

the preceding sentence

How do previous and prior relate to one another, in the sense of former?

Both 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

Thesaurus Entries Near former

Cite this Entry

“Former.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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