Definition of before in English:

before

adverb, preposition, & conjunction

  • 1During the period of time preceding (a particular event or time)

    as preposition ‘she had to rest before dinner’
    ‘the day before yesterday’
    as conjunction ‘they lived rough for four days before they were arrested’
    as adverb ‘his playing days had ended six years before’
    ‘it's never happened to me before’
    • ‘I always prefer to read a book before I see a film, so that I can have my own images in my head.’
    • ‘It took a minute for him to realize where he was and remember the events of the night before.’
    • ‘We had to go home and wait four hours before phoning the hospital for the result.’
    • ‘Ben led his friend to the bench on his long porch and then they both sat down before he answered.’
    • ‘He looked at the clock and decided he better go visit Thomas before his dinner meeting.’
    • ‘Again, this was more than three times the figure for the same period the year before.’
    • ‘He was crossing the road to visit a nearby newsagents to buy milk before he went swimming.’
    • ‘We went for a nice meal with the parents yesterday before having to catch the train home.’
    • ‘He had served with the Territorial Army before the war and rose to the rank of captain.’
    • ‘It turned out that the pilot spoke some English and had visited Boston before the war.’
    • ‘Remove them from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes before slicing in half.’
    • ‘We have met for a drink and a chat before dinner at a local restaurant with some of her mates.’
    • ‘She waited until she heard his car faded away before standing and getting her bags.’
    • ‘We wanted to get the work started some four to six weeks ago before the weather turned.’
    • ‘He said three to four minutes passed before someone came to take him down to the cells.’
    • ‘Four months before her death she gave him her blessing to go ahead with the procedure.’
    • ‘Hastily he picked the book up and handed it to her and bowed his head before standing.’
    • ‘He sat up straight for some time before realising there were two people in front of him.’
    • ‘We recently talked about what was going to happen in the period just before my death.’
    • ‘He will also oversee the opening of another four shops before the end of the year.’
    prior to, previous to, earlier than, preparatory to, in preparation for, preliminary to, in anticipation of, in expectation of
    previously, before now, before then, until now, until then, up to now, up to then
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  • 2In front of.

    as preposition ‘Matilda stood before her, panting’
    as adverb archaic ‘trotting through the city with guards running before and behind’
    • ‘I looked up and turned to the side to see a rather nice looking woman standing before me.’
    • ‘No one else appeared to be aware of the fearful events that were unfolding before my eyes.’
    • ‘You should have seen the look on her face when I stood before her door with my luggage in my hand.’
    • ‘The young man passes through the light, and is in a garden, standing before the gate.’
    • ‘Lia dug her hands into her jacket pockets, her eyes resting on the figure before her.’
    • ‘There was a stage at the front and the Headmaster was stood at it, before a microphone.’
    ahead, in front, in advance, in the lead
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    1. 2.1preposition In front of and required to answer to (a court of law, tribunal, or other authority)
      ‘he could be taken before a magistrate for punishment’
      • ‘My Lord, I am not standing before my Lord to say that there is an obvious flaw in the logic.’
      • ‘Sarah has a solicitor in Israel and plans to put the case before the court as soon as possible.’
      • ‘The justices before whom the question is brought and all the facts of the case appear.’
      • ‘He has since been suspended from his job and at some stage will have to appear before a tribunal.’
      • ‘If you were brought up before the headmaster he would poke you in the chest and you fell back.’
      • ‘You shall stand before him to answer for the conspiracy to destroy his beloved sons!’
      • ‘Mr Binding has freely admitted to the crimes put before him several times in this court.’
      • ‘In it he seeks an order that his clients' appeal be heard afresh before a new court.’
      • ‘If a case is put before the court on a basis, the court can only deal with it on that basis.’
      • ‘As I shall show in a moment, that evidence seems to me to have been before the tribunal.’
      • ‘The words impose a requirement on the court to make a judgment on the evidence before it.’
      • ‘Repeat young offenders have had to wait up to four months to be tried before magistrates.’
      • ‘It seems to me they are wholly excessive when one looks at the bundle before the court.’
      • ‘Eight days later she was up before the same court to admit committing two further thefts.’
      • ‘Ada is also a ward of court in the inheritance case and the pair are taken before the courts.’
      in front of, in the presence of, in the sight of
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  • 3In preference to; rather than.

    as preposition ‘a skilled warrior who places duty before all else’
    as conjunction ‘they would die before they would cooperate with each other’
    • ‘While Michael was fiercely loyal in his professional and personal relationships, he had a ruthless streak and was prepared to put his career before all else.’
    • ‘My dream is to be a great chef, and I put that before all things’
    • ‘I would die before helping you destroy the human race," he said.’
    in preference to, rather than, sooner than, above, over, instead of
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Origin

Old English beforan (see by, fore), of Germanic origin; related to German bevor.

Pronunciation

before

/bɪˈfɔː/