Definition of before in English:

before

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’
    • ‘We went for a nice meal with the parents yesterday before having to catch the train home.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Remove them from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes before slicing in half.’
    • ‘Ben led his friend to the bench on his long porch and then they both sat down before he answered.’
    • ‘We wanted to get the work started some four to six weeks ago before the weather turned.’
    • ‘He had served with the Territorial Army before the war and rose to the rank of captain.’
    • ‘She waited until she heard his car faded away before standing and getting her bags.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We have met for a drink and a chat before dinner at a local restaurant with some of her mates.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It turned out that the pilot spoke some English and had visited Boston before the war.’
    • ‘He sat up straight for some time before realising there were two people in front of him.’
    • ‘We had to go home and wait four hours before phoning the hospital for the result.’
    • ‘I always prefer to read a book before I see a film, so that I can have my own images in my head.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It took a minute for him to realize where he was and remember the events of the night before.’
    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
    View synonyms
  • 2In front of.

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

Origin

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

Pronunciation

before

/bɪˈfɔː/