Definition of before in English:


conjunction, preposition, & adverb

  • 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’
    prior to, previous to, earlier than, preparatory to, in preparation for, preliminary to, in anticipation of, in expectation of
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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’
    1. 2.1[preposition]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’
      in front of, in the presence of, in the sight of
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  • 3In preference to; rather than.

    [as preposition] ‘a woman who placed duty before all else’
    [as conjunction] ‘they would die before they would cooperate with each other’
    in preference to, rather than, sooner than, above, over, instead of
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Old English beforan (see by, fore), of Germanic origin; related to German bevor.