before

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English (adverb and preposition), from Old English beforan, itself from be- + foran 'before' (from fore)

Pronunciation[edit]

Preposition[edit]

before

  1. Earlier than (in time).
    I want this done before Monday.
    • Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)
      Before this treatise can become of use, two points are necessary.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, The Celebrity:
      We made an odd party before the arrival of the Ten, particularly when the Celebrity dropped in for lunch or dinner.
    • 2011 November 11, Rory Houston, “Estonia 0-4 Republic of Ireland”, RTE Sport:
      Stephen Ward then had to time his tackle excellently to deny Tarmo Kink as the Wolves winger slid the ball out of play before the Estonian could attempt to beat Given.
  2. In front of in space.
    He stood before me.
    We sat before the fire to warm ourselves.
    • John Milton (1608-1674)
      His angel, who shall go / Before them in a cloud and pillar of fire.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall, The Squire's Daughter, ch.I:
      He tried to persuade Cicely to stay away from the ball-room for a fourth dance. [] But she said she must go back, and when they joined the crowd again [] she found her mother standing up before the seat on which she had sat all the evening searching anxiously for her with her eyes, and her father by her side.
    • 2013 September-October, Henry Petroski, “The Evolution of Eyeglasses”, American Scientist: 
      The ability of a segment of a glass sphere to magnify whatever is placed before it was known around the year 1000, when the spherical segment was called a reading stone, essentially what today we might term a frameless magnifying glass or plain glass paperweight.
  3. Under consideration, judgment, authority of (someone).
    The case laid before the panel aroused nothing but ridicule.
    • John Ayliffe (1676-1732)
      If a suit be begun before an archdeacon []
  4. In store for, in the future of (someone).
  5. In front of, according to a formal system of ordering items.
    In alphabetical order, "cat" comes before "dog", "canine" before feline".
  6. At a higher or greater position in a ranking.
    An entrepreneur puts market share and profit before quality, an amateur intrinsic qualities before economical considerations.
    • Bible, John i. 15
      He that cometh after me is preferred before me.
    • Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
      The eldest son is before the younger in succession.

Synonyms[edit]

  • (earlier than in time): by, no later than
  • (in front of in space): ahead of, in front of
  • (in front of according to an ordering system): ahead of

Antonyms[edit]

  • (earlier than in time): after, later than
  • (in front of in space): behind
  • (in front of according to an ordering system): after

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Adverb[edit]

before (not comparable)

  1. At an earlier time.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 12, The Mirror and the Lamp:
      All this was extraordinarily distasteful to Churchill. It was ugly, gross. Never before had he felt such repulsion when the vicar displayed his characteristic bluntness or coarseness of speech. In the present connexion—or rather as a transition from the subject that started their conversation—such talk had been distressingly out of place.
    I've never done this before.
  2. In advance.
  3. At the front end.
    • 1896, Hilaire Belloc, The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts, “The Elephant”:
      When people call this beast to mind,
      They marvel more and more
      At such a little tail behind,
      So LARGE a trunk before.

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

  • (at an earlier time): after
  • (at the front end): behind

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Conjunction[edit]

before

  1. in advance of the time when
  2. (informal) rather or sooner than

Synonyms[edit]

  • (rather than): lest

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

References[edit]

  • Andrea Tyler and Vyvyan Evans, "Spatial particles of orientation", in The Semantics of English Prepositions: Spatial Scenes, Embodied Meaning and Cognition, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 0-521-81430 8

Statistics[edit]