Definition of before in English:

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Pronunciation: /bəˈfôr/

preposition, conjunction, & adverb

1During the period of time preceding (a particular event, date, or time): [as preposition]: she had to rest before dinner the day before yesterday before the war [as conjunction]: they lived rough for four days before they were arrested it wasn’t long before I had my first bite [as adverb]: his playing days had ended six years before it’s never happened to me before
More example sentences
  • We recently talked about what was going to happen in the period just before my death.
  • Again, this was more than three times the figure for the same period the year before.
  • 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;
in advance of, ahead of, leading up to, on the eve of
rare anterior to
previously, before now/then, until now/then, up to now/then;
earlier, formerly, hitherto, in the past, in days gone by
formal heretofore
2In front of: [as preposition]: Matilda stood before her, panting the patterns swam before her eyes [as adverb]: archaic trotting through the city with guards running before and behind
More example sentences
  • The young man passes through the light, and is in a garden, standing before the gate.
  • You should have seen the look on her face when I stood before her door with my luggage in my hand.
  • I looked up and turned to the side to see a rather nice looking woman standing before me.
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 a fall in the number of cases brought before the courts
More example sentences
  • Eight days later she was up before the same court to admit committing two further thefts.
  • Sarah has a solicitor in Israel and plans to put the case before the court as soon as possible.
  • 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
3In preference to; with a higher priority than: [as preposition]: a woman who placed duty before all else [as conjunction]: they would die before they would cooperate with each other
More example sentences
  • 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


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

Words that rhyme with before

abhor, adore, afore, anymore, ashore, awe, bandore, Bangalore, boar, Boer, bore, caw, chore, claw, cocksure, comprador, cor, core, corps, craw, Delors, deplore, door, draw, drawer, evermore, explore, flaw, floor, for, forbore, fore, foresaw, forevermore, forswore, four, fourscore, furthermore, Gábor, galore, gnaw, gore, grantor, guarantor, guffaw, hard-core, Haugh, haw, hoar, ignore, implore, Indore, interwar, jaw, Johor, Lahore, law, lessor, lor, lore, macaw, man-o'-war, maw, mirador, mor, more, mortgagor, Mysore, nevermore, nor, oar, obligor, offshore, onshore, open-jaw, or, ore, outdoor, outwore, paw, poor, pore, pour, rapport, raw, roar, saw, scaur, score, senhor, señor, shaw, ship-to-shore, shop-floor, shore, signor, Singapore, snore, soar, softcore, sore, spore, store, straw, swore, Tagore, tau, taw, thaw, Thor, threescore, tor, tore, torr, trapdoor, tug-of-war, two-by-four, underfloor, underscore, war, warrantor, Waugh, whore, withdraw, wore, yaw, yore, your

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: be·fore

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