erstwhile

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

erst(first, formerly) +‎ while

Pronunciation[edit]

Adverb[edit]

erstwhile ‎(not comparable)

  1. Formerly; in the past.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Adjective[edit]

erstwhile ‎(not comparable)

  1. (literary, law) Former, previous.
  2. (proscribed) Respected, honourable.
    • 1999 November 1, Frank Bruni, quoting George W. Bush, “For Bush, an Adjustable Speech Of Tested Themes and Phrases”, in New York Times[2]:
      If you're for one of my erstwhile opponents, that's O.K. Just don't work too hard.

Usage notes[edit]

The use of erstwhile to mean "respected" stems from a conflation with esteemed in phrases such as erstwhile colleague, and is proscribed by most authorities.[1][2]

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2005, May 21, Ruth Wajnryb, Erstwhile errors in do-it-yourself English, Sydney Morning Herald.
  2. ^ 2003, July 4, Jed Hartman, Words easily confused #7