Synonym Chooser

How is the word prior distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of prior are antecedent, anterior, foregoing, former, preceding, and previous. While all these words mean "being before," 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

In what contexts can antecedent take the place of prior?

While in some cases nearly identical to prior, antecedent applies to order in time and may suggest a causal relation.

conditions antecedent to the revolution

When might anterior be a better fit than prior?

Although the words anterior and prior have much in common, anterior applies to position before or ahead of usually in space, sometimes in time or order.

the anterior lobe of the brain

When can foregoing be used instead of prior?

The meanings of foregoing and prior largely overlap; however, foregoing applies chiefly to statements.

the foregoing remarks

When is it sensible to use former instead of prior?

The words former and prior can be used in similar contexts, but former implies always a definite comparison or contrast with something that is latter.

the former name of the company

When is preceding a more appropriate choice than prior?

In some situations, the words preceding and prior are roughly equivalent. However, preceding usually implies being immediately before in time or in place.

the preceding sentence

Thesaurus Entries Near prior

Cite this Entry

“Prior.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

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