Definify.com

Webster 1913 Edition


Before

Be-fore′

,
p
rep.
[OE.
beforen
,
biforen
,
before
, AS.
beforan
; pref.
be-
+
foran
,
fore
, before. See
Be-
, and
Fore
.]
1.
In front of; preceding in space; ahead of;
as, to stand
before
the fire;
before
the house
.
His angel, who shall go
Before
them in a cloud and pillar of fire.
Milton.
2.
Preceding in time; earlier than; previously to; anterior to the time when; – sometimes with the additional idea of purpose; in order that.
Before
Abraham was, I am.
John viii. 58.
Before
this treatise can become of use, two points are necessary.
Swift.
☞ Formerly before, in this sense, was followed by that. “Before that Philip called thee . . . I saw thee.”
John i. 48.
3.
An advance of; farther onward, in place or time.
The golden age . . . is
before
us.
Carlyle.
4.
Prior or preceding in dignity, order, rank, right, or worth; rather than.
He that cometh after me is preferred
before
me.
John i. 15.
The eldest son is
before
the younger in succession.
Johnson.
5.
In presence or sight of; face to face with; facing.
Abraham bowed down himself
before
the people.
Gen. xxiii. 12.
Wherewith shall I come
before
the Lord?
Micah vi. 6.
6.
Under the cognizance or jurisdiction of.
If a suit be begun
before
an archdeacon.
Ayliffe.
7.
Open for; free of access to; in the power of.
The world was all
before
them where to choose.
Milton.
Before the mast
(Naut.)
,
as a common sailor, – because the sailors live in the forecastle, forward of the foremast.
Before the wind
(Naut.)
,
in the direction of the wind and by its impulse; having the wind aft.

Be-fore′

,
adv.
1.
On the fore part; in front, or in the direction of the front; – opposed to
in the rear
.
The battle was
before
and behind.
2 Chron. xiii. 14.
2.
In advance.
“I come before to tell you.”
Shak.
3.
In time past; previously; already.
You tell me, mother, what I knew
before
.
Dryden.
4.
Earlier; sooner than; until then.
When the butt is out, we will drink water; not a drop
before
.
Shakespeare
Before is often used in self-explaining compounds; as, before-cited, before-mentioned; beforesaid.

Webster 1828 Edition


Before

BEFO'RE

, prep. [be and fore, that is by fore, near the fore part.]
1.
In front; on the side with the face, at any distance; used of persons.
2.
In presence of, with the idea of power, authority, respect.
Abraham bowed before the people of the land. Gen.23.
Wherewithal shall I come before the Lord. Micah 6.
3.
In sight of; as before the face.
4.
In the presence of, noting cognizance of jurisdiction.
5.
In the power of, noting the right or ability to choose or possess; free to the choice.
The world was all before them.
My land is before thee. Gen.20.
6. In front of any object; as before the house; before the fire.
7.
Preceding in time.
Before I was afflicted, I went astray. Ps.119.
Before Abraham was, I am. John 8.
Here the preposition has a sentence following for an object.
8.
In preference to.
And he set Ephraim before Manasseh. Gen.48.
Poverty is desirable before torments.
9.
Superior; preceding in dignity.
He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for he was before me. John l.
10. Prior to; having prior right; preceding in order; as, the eldest son is before the younger in succession.
11. Previous to; in previous order; in order to.
Before this treatise can become of use, two points are necessary.
12.
Before the wind, is to move in the direction of the wind by its impulse.

BEFO'RE

,
adv.
In time preceding.
You tell me what I knew before.
1.
In time preceding, to the present, or to this time; hitherto; as, tumults then arose which before were unknown.
2.
Further onward in place, in progress, or in front.
Reaching forth to those things which are before. Phil.3.
3.
In front; on the fore part.
The battle was before and behind. 2 Chron.13.
In some of the examples of the use of before, which Johnson places under the adverb, the word is a preposition governing a sentence; as, 'Before the hills appeared.' This is the real construction,however overlooked or misunderstood.

Definition 2022


before

before

English

Alternative forms

Preposition

before

  1. Earlier than (in time).
    I want this done before Monday.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)
      Before this treatise can become of use, two points are necessary.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in 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”, 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. In front of in space.
    He stood before me.
    We sat before the fire to warm ourselves.
    • (Can we date this quote?) 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, chapterI:
      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”, 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?) John Ayliffe (1676-1732)
      If a suit be begun before an archdeacon []
  5. In store for, in the future of (someone).
    • (Can we date this quote?) Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)
      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 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?) Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
      The eldest son is before the younger in succession.

Synonyms

  • (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

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

Translations

Adverb

before (not comparable)

  1. At an earlier time.
    • 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 connexionor rather as a transition from the subject that started their conversationsuch 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

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

Derived terms

Translations

Conjunction

before

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

Synonyms

  • (rather than): lest

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

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: these · two · us · #90: before · see · over · know