There are 2 main definitions of former in English:

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former 1

Pronunciation: /ˈfɔːmə/


1Having previously been a particular thing: her former boyfriend
More example sentences
  • Previous solo albums by former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon were almost the sound of a man apologising for having once been in the charts.
  • The former cricket umpire had previously been picked up once every three months by ambulance for check-ups at the hospital.
  • In fact, she was a former bankrupt who had previously been charged with insurance fraud.
1.1Of or occurring in the past: the seafarers of former times
More example sentences
  • Euro RSCG Arks has lost several major accounts and shrunk to a third of its former size in the past two years.
  • In a nod to the county's former hippy past, the company's head chef is said to have formerly worked for the rock band Grateful Dead.
  • It's easy to forget the former blight and decay of this part of Southwark.
earlier, old, past, bygone, long-ago, forgotten, immemorial, remote;
gone by, long ago, long departed, long gone, long past, of old
literary of yore, olden, foregone
rare primigenial, pristine
2 (the former) Denoting the first or first mentioned of two people or things: I take the former view [as noun]: the powers of the former are more comprehensive than those of the latter
More example sentences
  • Aquinas leans in the direction of the former view, but realizes that the latter could in fact be the case.
  • The left take precisely the opposite view, condemning the former assault but applauding the latter.
  • The essence of the former view can be presented as follows.
first-mentioned, first


Traditionally, former and latter are used in relation to pairs of items: either the first of two items (former) or the second of two items (latter). The reason for this is that former and latter were formed as comparatives, and comparatives are correctly used with reference to just two things, while a superlative is used where there are more than two things. So, for example, strictly speaking one should say the longest of the three books but the longer of the two books. In practice, former and latter are now sometimes used just as synonyms for first and last and are routinely used to refer to a contrast involving more than two items. Such uses, however, are not acceptable in good English style.


Middle English: from Old English forma (see foremost) + -er2.

Words that rhyme with former

dormer, korma, Norma, performer, pro-forma, stormer, transformer, trauma, warmer
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There are 2 main definitions of former in English:

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former 2

Pronunciation: /ˈfɔːmə/


1A person or thing that forms something: [in combination]: an opinion-former
More example sentences
  • He was speaking in Dublin at the Bord Bia European Meat Forum, attended by more than 170 beef buyers from major European retail groups, along with international opinion formers and media representatives.
  • Another step will be to host familiarisation trips (known in the trade as ‘fam trips’) to bring opinion formers such as journalists to visit the city and by so doing to build a positive image for it.
  • Note too that blog readerships are dominated not simply by affluent ABs, but by other significant opinion formers: politicians, academics and broadcasters.
1.1A tool, mould, or other device used to form articles or shape materials: an arch former
More example sentences
  • Future capital expenditures are earmarked for installation of automatic ice cream freezers, case formers and material handling at the Henderson plant.
  • The sheets are drawn over shaped formers to the extent that they deform plastically and assume the required profiles.
  • The surfaces of the formers have different shapes and are used to impart these shapes to the forgings.
1.2A transverse strengthening part in an aircraft wing or fuselage.
Example sentences
  • The prototype aircraft was powered by a Wright R - 975 Whirlwind of 420-hp and the fuselage was constructed of steel tubing with wood and metal formers and wooden stringers.
  • In that configuration, the computerized mechanism will weld the formers and stringers to the three separate fuselage sections laid out on jigs under the moving gantry.
  • Around the basic tube fuselage, Gordon added wooden stringers and formers to give the unit its desired shape.
1.3A frame or core around which an electrical coil can be wound.
2 [in combination] British A person in a particular school year: fifth-formers
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