Definition of before in English:

before

adverb, conjunction, & preposition

  • 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’
    • ‘He will also oversee the opening of another four shops before the end of the year.’
    • ‘We recently talked about what was going to happen in the period just before my death.’
    • ‘Four months before her death she gave him her blessing to go ahead with the procedure.’
    • ‘She waited until she heard his car faded away before standing and getting her bags.’
    • ‘Hastily he picked the book up and handed it to her and bowed his head before standing.’
    • ‘I always prefer to read a book before I see a film, so that I can have my own images in my head.’
    • ‘We wanted to get the work started some four to six weeks ago before the weather turned.’
    • ‘He sat up straight for some time before realising there were two people in front of him.’
    • ‘He had served with the Territorial Army before the war and rose to the rank of captain.’
    • ‘We had to go home and wait four hours before phoning the hospital for the result.’
    • ‘We went for a nice meal with the parents yesterday before having to catch the train home.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He said three to four minutes passed before someone came to take him down to the cells.’
    • ‘We have met for a drink and a chat before dinner at a local restaurant with some of her mates.’
    • ‘Remove them from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes before slicing in half.’
    • ‘He looked at the clock and decided he better go visit Thomas before his dinner meeting.’
    • ‘Ben led his friend to the bench on his long porch and then they both sat down before he answered.’
    • ‘It took a minute for him to realize where he was and remember the events of the night before.’
    • ‘It turned out that the pilot spoke some English and had visited Boston before the war.’
    previously, before now, before then, until now, until then, up to now, up to then
    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’
    • ‘I looked up and turned to the side to see a rather nice looking woman standing before me.’
    • ‘Lia dug her hands into her jacket pockets, her eyes resting on the figure before her.’
    • ‘The young man passes through the light, and is in a garden, standing before the gate.’
    • ‘There was a stage at the front and the Headmaster was stood at it, before a microphone.’
    • ‘You should have seen the look on her face when I stood before her door with my luggage in my hand.’
    • ‘No one else appeared to be aware of the fearful events that were unfolding before my eyes.’
    ahead, in front, in advance, in the lead
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    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’
      • ‘Repeat young offenders have had to wait up to four months to be tried before magistrates.’
      • ‘Mr Binding has freely admitted to the crimes put before him several times in this court.’
      • ‘It seems to me they are wholly excessive when one looks at the bundle before the court.’
      • ‘The words impose a requirement on the court to make a judgment on the evidence before it.’
      • ‘My Lord, I am not standing before my Lord to say that there is an obvious flaw in the logic.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sarah has a solicitor in Israel and plans to put the case before the court as soon as possible.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You shall stand before him to answer for the conspiracy to destroy his beloved sons!’
      • ‘If you were brought up before the headmaster he would poke you in the chest and you fell back.’
      • ‘In it he seeks an order that his clients' appeal be heard afresh before a new court.’
      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’
    • ‘I would die before helping you destroy the human race," he said.’
    • ‘My dream is to be a great chef, and I put that before all things’
    • ‘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.’
    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/