One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Identifying the agent performing an action.by means of, by use of, by virtue of, on account of, as a result of, as a consequence of, owing to, by reason of, on grounds of, on the strength of, due to, thanks to, by, viaView synonyms
- 1.1 After a passive verb.‘the door was opened by my cousin Annie’‘damage caused by fire’through the agency of, by means of, under the aegis of, using, utilizing, employing, with the help of, with the aid of, as a result of, because of, by dint of, by way of, by virtue of, via, throughView synonyms
- 1.2 After a noun denoting an action.‘a clear decision by the electorate’‘years of hard fund-raising work by local people’
- 1.3 Identifying the author of a text, idea, or work of art.‘a book by Ernest Hemingway’
- 1.1 After a passive verb.
2often with verbal noun Indicating the means of achieving something.‘malaria can be controlled by attacking the parasite’‘they substantiate their opinions by the use of precise textual reference’‘they plan to provide further working capital by means of borrowing’
- 2.1 Indicating a term to which an interpretation is to be assigned.‘what is meant by ‘fair’?’
- 2.2 Indicating a name according to which a person is known.‘she mostly calls me by my last name’
- 2.3 Indicating the means of transport selected for a journey.‘the cost of travelling by bus’‘I travelled to Folkestone by rail’
- 2.4 Indicating the other parent of someone's child or children.‘Richard is his son by his third wife’
- 2.5 Indicating the sire of a pedigree animal, especially a horse.‘a black filly by Goldfuerst’
- 2.6 (followed by a noun without a determiner) in various phrases indicating how something happens.‘I heard by chance that she has married again’‘Anderson, by contrast, rejects this view’‘she ate by candlelight’
- 2.1 Indicating a term to which an interpretation is to be assigned.
3Indicating the amount or size of a margin.‘the shot missed her by miles’‘the raising of VAT by 2.5%’
- 3.1 Indicating a quantity or amount.‘billing is by the minute’‘the drunken yobbos who turned up by the cartload’
- 3.2 In phrases indicating something happening repeatedly or progressively, typically with repetition of a unit of time.‘colours changing minute by minute’‘the risk becomes worse by the day’
- 3.3 Identifying a parameter.‘a breakdown of employment figures by age and occupation’
- 3.4 Expressing multiplication, especially in dimensions.‘a map measuring 400 by 600 mm’‘she multiplied it by 89’
- 3.1 Indicating a quantity or amount.
4Indicating a deadline or the end of a particular time period.‘I've got to do this report by Monday’‘by now Kelly needed extensive physiotherapy’no later than, in good time for, at, beforeView synonyms
5Indicating location of a physical object beside a place or object.‘remains were discovered by the roadside’‘the pram was by the dresser’next to, beside, next door to, alongside, at the side of, by the side of, abreast of, adjacent to, cheek by jowl with, side by side withView synonyms
- 5.1 Past and beyond.‘I drove by our house’past, in front of, beyondView synonyms
- 5.1 Past and beyond.
6Indicating the period in which something happens.‘this animal always hunts by night’
7Concerning; according to.‘anything you do is all right by me’‘she had done her duty by him’according to, with, as far as … is concerned, concerningView synonyms
8Used in mild oaths.‘it was the least he could do, by God’‘I swear by Almighty God’
by and by
Before long; eventually.eventually, ultimately, finally, in the end, as time goes by, as time goes on, one day, some day, sooner or later, in time, in a while, after a bit, in the long run, in the fullness of time, at a later time, at a later date, at length, at a future date, at a future time, at some point in the future, in the future, in time to come, in due courseView synonyms
by the by (or bye)
Incidentally.‘where's Hector, by the by?’less important, of less importance, secondary, subsidiary, subordinate, ancillary, auxiliaryView synonyms
informal An exclamation used for emphasis or to express emotions such as surprise, anger, or distress.‘by hokey, it will have been worth it’
- ‘It's not big or fancy but, by hokey, it's fun.’
- ‘The film never happened, but by hokey it's a great yarn.’
- ‘We'll surely all die of skin cancer in the years to come, but by hokey, it will have been worth it.’
- ‘By hokey, we mean to hold this government accountable one way or the other.’
- ‘By hokey, she gives an excellent analysis of his article in this morning's Post.’
by and large
On the whole; everything considered.‘mammals have, by and large, bigger brains than reptiles’largely, mostly, mainly, to a large extent, to a great extent, to a great degree, on the whole, chiefly, generally, in general, predominantly, substantially, primarily, overall, for the most part, in the main, principally, in great measure, preponderantly, first and foremost, for all intents and purposes, basicallyView synonyms
1Alone.‘she lives in the apartment by herself’
2Unaided.‘the patient often learns to undress by himself’
Old English bī, bi, be, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bij and German bei.
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