before
Pronunciation
  • (RP) enPR: bĭfôʹ, IPA: /bɪˈfɔː/
  • (America) enPR bəfôrʹ, IPA: /bəˈfɔɹ/, /biˈfɔɹ/
  • (rhotic, horse-hoarse) enPR: bĭfōrʹ, IPA: /bɪˈfo(ː)ɹ/
  • (nonrhotic, horse-hoarse) IPA: /bɪˈfoə/

Preposition
  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.
    • rfdatke John Milton
      His angel, who shall go / Before them in a cloud and pillar of fire.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall [pseudonym; Arthur Hammond Marshall], chapter I, in The Squire’s Daughter, London: Methuen, OCLC 12026604 ↗; republished New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1919, OCLC 491297620 ↗:
      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.
  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.
    • If a suit be begun before an archdeacon […]
  5. In store for, in the future of (someone).
    • 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.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, John 1:15 ↗:
      He that cometh after me is preferred before me.
    • 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 Translations Translations
  • French: avant
  • German: vor
  • Portuguese: antes de
  • Russian: пе́ред
  • Spanish: antes de

Adverb

before (not comparable)

  1. At an earlier time.
    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 smallcaps little tail behind,
      So LARGE a trunk before.
Synonyms Antonyms Translations Translations Translations
Conjunction
  1. In advance of the time when.
    • 1731, Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation
      before this elaborate treatise can become of universal use and ornament to my native country, two points […] are absolutely necessary.
  2. (informal) Rather or sooner than.
    I'll die before I'll tell you anything about it.
Synonyms Translations Translations


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