pre·​vi·​ous | \ ˈprē-vē-əs How to pronounce previous (audio) \

Definition of previous

1 : going before in time or order : prior the previous owners previous attempts had failed reread the previous page
2 : acting too soon : premature somewhat previous in his conclusion

Other Words from previous

previously adverb
Physicists have constructed a pipette that dispenses a billionth of a trillionth of a liter, a droplet that's a thousand times as small as volumes previously achieved. — A. Cunningham Previously, many mutations have been induced by harsh treatments such as X rays, UV light or chemicals. — Kevin Struhl
previousness noun
Had I been capable of looking closer then, I might have asked myself why every kind of previousness miraculously survived there … — Robyn Davidson

Choose the Right Synonym for previous

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 previous in a Sentence

She has a child from a previous marriage. The two characters met in a previous chapter. the previous owners of the house
Recent Examples on the Web Some residents in opposition pointed to previous Assembly legislation on the building that said it could not be used for a homeless shelter, angry that the Assembly is now pushing to move homeless residents in. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Sep. 2022 Failure to pay the fine, or previous offenses, can result in arrest. Beck Andrew Salgado, Journal Sentinel, 27 Sep. 2022 In the previous episode, Buck [played by Oliver Stark] was sort of vying and for the position — very awkwardly and ridiculously. Patrick Gomez,, 27 Sep. 2022 In a previous, unrelated attack, Lapsus$ breached a contractor working with the authentication company Okta in an attempt to compromise organizations through the identity management provider. WIRED, 27 Sep. 2022 Conveying a clear message about the benefits of the newest boosters has been more challenging than for previous shots, Offit said. Robin Fields, ProPublica, 27 Sep. 2022 Exactly how the vaccines can prompt changes in periods isn’t clear, but previous studies have hinted that the effect is likely related to cross-talk between the immune system—which is activated after vaccination—and the reproductive system. Alice Park, Time, 27 Sep. 2022 Mulkey, who now coaches the Louisiana State University Tigers, then offered to answer a previous, unrelated question proposed by Diaz. Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 27 Sep. 2022 The law has been waived during previous storms, but U.S. President Joe Biden has not responded to Pierluisi's petition. DÁnica Coto, ajc, 27 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'previous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of previous

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for previous

Latin praevius leading the way, from prae- pre- + via way — more at way

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Time Traveler for previous

Time Traveler

The first known use of previous was in 1621

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Dictionary Entries Near previous



previous examination

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Last Updated

30 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Previous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for previous


pre·​vi·​ous | \ ˈprē-vē-əs How to pronounce previous (audio) \

Kids Definition of previous

: going before in time or order : preceding No previous experience is needed.

Other Words from previous

previously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on previous

Nglish: Translation of previous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of previous for Arabic Speakers


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