Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of before
Meaning of before by Wiktionary Dictionary



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


    • ( RP ) enPR: bĭfô', IPA: /bɪˈfɔː/, X-SAMPA: /bI"fO:/
    • ( US ) enPR: bĭfôr', IPA: /bɪˈfɔːr/, /bəˈfɔːr/, X-SAMPA: /bi"fO:r/
    • Hyphenation: be‧fore
    • Rhymes: -ɔː( r )



    1. Earlier than ( in time ) .
      I want this done before Monday .
    2. In front of in space .
      He stood before me .
    3. Under consideration, judgment, authority of ( someone ) .
      The case laid before the panel aroused nothing but ridicule .
    4. In store for, in the future of ( someone ) .
      The period before us looks grim because of the economical crisis .
    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 subjective ranking .
      An entrepreneur puts market share and profit before quality, an amateur intrinsic qualities before economical considerations .




    before ( not comparable )

    1. at an earlier time
      I've never done this before .
    2. in advance



    • after

    Derived terms



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


    See also

    • 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


Explanation of before by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. earlier in time

    2. I had known her before
      as I said before
      he called me the day before but your call had come even earlier
    3. at or in the front

    4. with the cross of Jesus marching on before

    Definition of before by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Before prep. [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.

    2. Before, 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. Shak.

      ☞ Before is often used in self-explaining compounds; as, before-cited, before-mentioned; beforesaid.