Definition of below in English:

below

preposition

  • 1At a lower level or layer than.

    ‘just below the pocket was a stain’
    ‘the blistered skin below his collar’
    • ‘Surrounded by water on all sides, the edifice is 11 stories high but also goes 18 metres below sea level.’
    • ‘There is barely any discernible sensation of the blade below skin level.’
    • ‘The next layer is wired to the layer below it, and the process is repeated.’
    • ‘As we were driving through Calcutta, my friend pointed to a little shrine to a god embedded in a wall just below waist level.’
    • ‘A deep cut could penetrate to the fatty layer below the skin.’
    • ‘The Taklamakan desert oasis of Turpan, at 154 metres below sea level, is the second lowest point in the world.’
    • ‘One of the exhibits consisted simply of a couple of Post-It notes stuck to each other, hanging from the ceiling by a thread, a little bit below eye level.’
    • ‘Wendy recalls the excitement of going with her mother and aunt to a tearoom below street level and having an ice cream sundae and a fizzy drink.’
    • ‘The ground floor, which would be partially set below pavement level, would accommodate two single bedroom residential units.’
    • ‘Robb also had three stars and a pennant defining his rank painted below the windscreen.’
    • ‘Sections of the original façade were missing and the original entrance to the house was buried below street level.’
    • ‘Malingerer's arm was low, but it never fell below shoulder level.’
    • ‘In the long run, the New Orleans area has a particular challenge, because much of the city lies below sea level.’
    1. 1.1 Lower in grade or rank than.
      ‘the aristocracy rank below the monarchy’
      ‘they rated the company's financial soundness below its competitor's’
      • ‘That which transpired last midweek was probably the heaviest loss Scotland have suffered against a team ranked below them.’
      • ‘Health care and more affordable childcare places rank below tax cuts in current macho political cultures.’
      • ‘He loved the fear in the women's faces and voices; he reveled in the fear of those who ranked below him.’
      • ‘Apollyon was his Second Lieutenant, ranking below only Lady Alysia and the Prince himself.’
      • ‘The difficulty both for contemporaries and for historians has been to find a term suitable for describing landowners below the ranks of the gentry.’
      • ‘Our ratings in those markets are below that of our competitors.’
      • ‘Megan was Sara and Callie's close friend, even though she was a grade below the senior girls.’
      • ‘This is why the media in this country rank below mad cow disease in terms of voter approval.’
      • ‘In the Hebrew Bible nonhuman animals are generally ranked below the humans with whom they share the earth.’
      • ‘However, that would still be well below its original financial forecast, he noted.’
      • ‘For me, bathing suit shopping is an annual occurrence that ranks slightly below a trip to the dentist.’
      • ‘Italy ranks below Botswana, while Namibia scores equal with Greece.’
      • ‘The term was used from around the mid-eighteenth century to describe those people below the aristocracy but above the workers.’
      • ‘50 years ago: The Spa at Scarborough had banned members of the Army below the rank of sergeant.’
      • ‘His certificate ranks immediately below the MBE, and he is the first member of a combined cadet force to receive the accolade.’
      • ‘I remember looking up to see a small girl in a grade below me laughing behind her hand.’
      • ‘I have a hard time accepting that we rank below Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia and Slovakia.’
      • ‘Well, if an officer of your rank, with clout and a good deal of power and influence does not speak out, do you honestly expect that others below your rank would?’
      • ‘Too many are doing work which is at least a grade below their skills.’
      • ‘Payson is confident Oxford's raises are still below those of its competitors.’
      lower than, under, inferior to, subordinate to, secondary to, subservient to
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    2. 1.2 Lower than (a specified amount or standard)
      ‘pupils of below average ability’
      ‘below freezing’
      ‘below 50 mph’
      • ‘Unfortunately, the technical achievements of the film fall far below the standard set for the feature.’
      • ‘If the value of your account falls below a minimum, it could cost you.’
      • ‘If their behaviour falls below acceptable standards they will be prosecuted.’
      • ‘He said staffing levels were 20% below the level required to provide a basic service.’
      • ‘Your magazine rarely falls below standards of excellence.’
      • ‘There are countless examples of conduct by high profile sports stars that fall well below community standards.’
      • ‘Negligence is defined by expert testimony as medical practice that falls below the standard of care.’
      • ‘Samples tested for dioxins and furans showed concentrations at or below those expected under normal circumstances.’
      • ‘But they highlighted the need for more rigor in improving standards, which are below average.’
      • ‘Ensure that whatever you do never falls below the standard of your abilities and goals.’
      • ‘The cost of travel to and from a job would lower most wages below the level of unemployment benefit.’
      • ‘Based upon the research approximately 10 percent of the population fell below this amount.’
      • ‘Similarly, the logging, refrigerated, and line haul drivers all reported below average amounts of sleep.’
      • ‘This year's increase of 4.8 per cent falls well below the average of 5.9 per cent.’
      • ‘His memory deteriorated and his schoolwork fell below standard.’
      • ‘There will be some years when shares may perform well and other times when they could fall below the long-term average.’
      • ‘Ratio IQs were calculated for the Bayley because scores in the manual do not extend below 50.’
      • ‘This includes lowering the annual level of inflation to below 5 per cent.’
      • ‘The RUH Trust however denied liability and claimed her treatment did not fall below an acceptable clinical standard.’
      • ‘But the report said teaching was poor, academic achievement was well below average and disruptive pupils were out of control.’
      less than, lower than, under, not as much as, not so much as, smaller than
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  • 2Extending underneath.

    ‘the tunnel below the crags’
    ‘cables running below the floorboards’
    • ‘His target now was the doorway two floors below, straight underneath where he stood.’
    • ‘If the canker extends below the soil line, the entire vine must be removed.’
    • ‘There is adequate storage below the berths although hanging locker space is limited and there is no wet locker.’
    • ‘The team found large hot bubbles extending above and below a disk of gas along the equator of the galaxy.’
    • ‘Obvious examples are the excavation of building foundation and tunnels that extend below the water-table.’
    • ‘They extend both above and below the waistline, are wider in the center and taper to points at both ends.’
    • ‘Standing, I shuffled into the kitchen and peered into the space below the sink.’
    • ‘Cars would be banished to long tunnels running beneath the complex, and lorries and trucks to an even deeper tunnel network below them.’
    • ‘Males and females look the same, with white chins extending up just below the eyes and gray-brown caps.’
    • ‘Catwalks extended across the open spaces below me which were filled with machinery of different kinds.’
    • ‘She looked down toward the ground and noticed a tree branch that extended out below her window.’
    • ‘Tunnels and caverns deep below the snowy-white building were the safest place for storing valuables.’
    • ‘He states that to perform properly, the gas check cannot extend below the neck of a cartridge case.’
    • ‘Drilled piles were used to extend the load below the expanse of surface soil.’
    • ‘Most older houses will have a crawl space below the boards.’
    • ‘Memmel's cast, which had extended to just below her knee, was removed, but she is still on crutches.’
    • ‘The acromion is hook-like and extends below the glenoid as in modern mammals.’
    • ‘Rights in possession can extend both below the surface of the land and to the airspace above it.’
    • ‘I had found an exit to the underground facility which led through a tunnel and ended below a janitor's closet.’
    • ‘During the First World War 12,000 Allied soldiers sweated and tunnelled below the town.’
    beneath, under, underneath, further down than, lower than
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adverb

  • 1At a lower level or layer.

    ‘he jumped from the window into the moat below’
    • ‘It fell a few feet below us, then came zooming back up straight at me.’
    • ‘If you slip, you go tumbling over the roof into the expanse below.’
    • ‘So he jumped below and spread the chart of Mag Bay out on the table and yelled soundings and direction to me.’
    • ‘And one, two three....the young giant leapt into the Sea below.’
    • ‘He fell past the tree and onto the ground below.’
    further down, lower down, in a lower position, underneath, beneath, downstairs
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    1. 1.1 (in printed text) mentioned further down on the same page, or further on in the text.
      ‘our nutritionist is pictured below right’
      • ‘But there are, of course, other tests, apart from the one adopted below and apart from the one that we pressed for.’
      • ‘This drops down parallel to another pitch described below and eventually the two merge.’
      • ‘Check out the simple virtual reality example below and then try one of the sites listed at the bottom of the page.’
      • ‘By filling out the form below and then submitting it, you can report any injury or death involving consumer products to us, or report an unsafe product to us.’
      • ‘These analyses will be elaborated below and subsequently defended against various alternative analyses.’
      • ‘The table below gives the final rank for India in the Women's World Cup.’
      • ‘The tables below rank the retailers in order of the quickest to respond and the friendliest reps.’
      • ‘Examine the vignettes below and then read the discussion that follows.’
      • ‘You have the option of clicking on the subjects below or simply reading the interview from the beginning.’
      • ‘This can be combined with the suit ranking variation described below.’
      • ‘As will be presented below, this same level of analysis can be applied to other stay/leave models.’
      • ‘Check out the sales ranks of the books below - this is a pretty good indication of how much we care about this problem.’
      underneath, following, further on, at a later point, in a later place, at the bottom, at the end
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    2. 1.2Nautical Below deck.
      ‘I'll go below and fix us a drink’
      • ‘We did not think it very serious so went below again cursing the iceberg for disturbing us.’
      • ‘I went below to rest, because I would be on watch later.’
      • ‘Eight o’clock came, and the watch went below, and, for the whole of the first hour, the ship was tearing on, with studding-sails out, alow and aloft, and the night as dark as a pocket.’
      • ‘Despite the excitement of my first sea voyage, I was asleep almost as soon as we went below to the cabin which I shared with my baby brother Charles, just seven months old.’
      • ‘The wind at the time the captain went below was blowing a fresh breeze from east-north-east, with a heavy sea, which increased to a violent gale; he was, however, not called until 2 o'clock.’

Phrases

  • below (the) ground

    • Beneath the surface of the ground.

      ‘60 feet below ground’
      • ‘Yes, in fact here in Perth they already drain it straight into what we call the aquifer which is where the ground water is situated below ground.’
      • ‘Their train stopped in a tunnel just before the station, where the line is 400 feet below ground.’
      • ‘The floor was about 4.5 feet below ground and shards of pottery and flint were found, which will be given to the National Museum.’
      • ‘Cicadas live all but their last days feeding on the sap of tree roots located a few inches to a couple of feet below ground.’
      • ‘Even though most of the company's network relies on cables buried several feet below the ground, it is not uncommon to have those cables exposed and slashed by flooding and debris, she added.’
      • ‘Now the sand lies hundreds of feet thick below the ground.’
      • ‘Working off the ground, below the ground, or with powerful tools and equipment is dangerous work.’
      • ‘My dad was working in a goldmine 1,200 feet below the ground.’
      • ‘Who would have thought the only dry place in that part of the city would be 50 feet below ground.’
      • ‘Four means of disposal, surface storage, storage just below ground and two versions of deep subterranean storage, are being considered.’
      • ‘To test this controversial theory he supervised a drilling project in Sweden and found clear evidence for life far below the ground beneath solid granite.’
      • ‘The map showed that the facility had five floors, extending some sixty feet below ground.’
      • ‘It's also quite strange that as almost all the damage is below ground, there is nothing to see on the surface that might disturb you.’
      • ‘The finished museum, with five storeys above ground and one storey below ground, will resemble a huge ship.’
      • ‘The miners worked in 100-degree temperatures, 1,000 feet below the ground, in a space they couldn't really stand up in.’
      • ‘The mines often lie sixty or so feet below the ground.’
      • ‘It may not be a great place to work but it beats digging coal 300 feet below ground.’
      • ‘Geopathic Stress is mainly caused by narrow paths of water about 200/300 feet below ground.’
      • ‘This property-imaging process will help us to look for anything that may be buried below ground.’
      • ‘It spanned hundreds of miles and was over 30 feet below the ground in some places, keeping them safe from the constant barrages from the American planes.’
      subterranean, subterrestrial, below ground, buried, sunken, lower-level, basement
      below ground, below the surface, under the earth, in the earth
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  • below stairs

    • dated In the basement of a house as occupied by servants.

      • ‘He strode out of the room and finished dressing in the hallway before going below stairs to find the innkeeper's wife.’
      • ‘Historically, the right harboured desires to keep the white working class below stairs.’
      • ‘In so doing, he heard the street gossip, upstairs as well as below stairs.’
      • ‘Later I realised it was because I didn't fit in; above or below stairs.’
      • ‘From the seven bedrooms on the first floor, to the nine reception rooms on the ground floor, to the staff quarters below stairs, the apartment is the epitome of elegance.’
      • ‘As if waiting for them to say something, there was a blast from below stairs.’
      • ‘And this is less than half the cast, because half the action takes place below stairs, where the servants live.’
      • ‘After a protest he was later moved to a sweeter smelling room, although still below stairs.’
      • ‘The exhibition explores life above and below stairs, examining the role of women as decision makers raising dynasties and workhorses in service.’
      • ‘Stately piles, where below stairs was once strictly out of bounds, are busily restoring their kitchens and servants' quarters to allow us to see how ‘ordinary’ life was lived in centuries past.’
      • ‘She was known below stairs as ‘Lady Jane’; a social-climber whose devotion to her Duchess, and mock-Royal mannerisms, amused and disturbed her colleagues in equal measure.’
      • ‘It was a serious house with a beautiful grey salon, but I was well below stairs with no carpet, just stone floors.’
      • ‘Life below stairs is just as complicated as life above.’
      • ‘And this collection shows them to be a fascinating glimpse of the hidden world below stairs, and class and power relationships.’
      • ‘With an obedient nod, she turned for the door that led to the servants' quarters, below stairs.’
      • ‘It's a fascinating story of life below stairs at Buckingham Palace.’
      • ‘Servants, a new drama series set below stairs in an English country house in the 1850s, starts filming for BBC ONE’
      • ‘The Princess visited the stately home to open its new exhibition tracing the lives of lifestyles of former staff - and she revealed that she had spent time below stairs on childhood visits to the house.’
      • ‘As well as in nurseries, it is likely that Black Beauty was distributed lavishly below stairs - as were tracts and ‘improving’ moral tales designed to reconcile Victorian servants to their lot.’
      • ‘Servants is a bold and irreverent drama series set below stairs in a country house in 1850s England.’

Origin

Late Middle English (as an adverb): from be- ‘by’ + the adjective low. Not common until the 16th century, the word developed a prepositional use and was frequent in Shakespeare.

Pronunciation

below

/bɪˈləʊ/