before

English

Alternative forms

  • befo (pronunciation spelling)
  • befo' (pronunciation spelling)

Etymology

From Middle English before (adverb and preposition), from Old English beforan, from be- + foran (before), from fore, from Proto-Germanic *furai, from Proto-Indo-European front. Cognate with Saterland Frisian befoar (before), German Low German bevör (before), German bevor (before).

Pronunciation

Preposition

before

  1. Earlier than (in time).
    I want this done before Monday.
  2. In front of in space.
    He stood before me.
    We sat before the fire to warm ourselves.
    • (Can we date this quote?)Lua error in Module:utilities at line 138: Language code has not been specified. Please pass parameter 1 to the template. John Milton
      His angel, who shall go / Before them in a cloud and pillar of fire.
    • Template:RQ:Mrxl SqrsDghtr
      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.
    • (deprecated use of |lang= parameter)
      2013 September-October, Henry Petroski, “The Evolution of Eyeglasses”, in 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. In the presence of.
    He performed before the troops in North Africa.
    He spoke before a joint session of Congress.
  4. Under consideration, judgment, authority of (someone).
    The case laid before the panel aroused nothing but ridicule.
    • (Can we date this quote?)Lua error in Module:utilities at line 138: Language code has not been specified. Please pass parameter 1 to the template. John Ayliffe
      If a suit be begun before an archdeacon []
  5. In store for, in the future of (someone).
    • (Can we date this quote?)Lua error in Module:utilities at line 138: Language code has not been specified. Please pass parameter 1 to the template. Thomas Carlyle
      The golden age [] is before us.
  6. In front of, according to a formal system of ordering items.
    In alphabetical order, "cat" comes before "dog", "canine" before feline".
  7. At a higher or greater position than, 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.
    • (Can we date this quote?)Lua error in Module:utilities at line 138: Language code has not been specified. Please pass parameter 1 to the template. Samuel Johnson
      The eldest son is before the younger in succession.

Synonyms

Antonyms

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

Translations

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 Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Adverb

before (not comparable)

  1. At an earlier time.
    • (deprecated use of |lang= parameter)
      1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 12, in 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

Antonyms

Derived terms

Translations

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 Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Conjunction

before

  1. In advance of the time when.
    • (Can we date this quote?)Lua error in Module:utilities at line 138: Language code has not been specified. Please pass parameter 1 to the template. Jonathan Swift
      Before this treatise can become of use, two points are necessary.
    • (deprecated use of |lang= parameter)
      2011 November 11, Rory Houston, “Estonia 0-4 Republic of Ireland”, in 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. (informal) Rather or sooner than.

Synonyms

Translations

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 Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

References

  • before at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • 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

Anagrams