Definition of by in English:

Share this entry

by

Pronunciation: /bī/

preposition

1Identifying the agent performing an action.
1.1After a passive verb: the door was opened by my cousin Annie damage caused by fire
Synonyms
through, as a result of, because of, by dint of, by way of, via, by means of;
with the help of, with the aid of, by virtue of
1.2After a noun denoting an action: further attacks by the mob a clear decision by the electorate
1.3Identifying the author of a text, idea, or work of art: a book by Ernest Hemingway
2 [often with verbal noun] Indicating the means of achieving something: malaria can be controlled by attacking the parasite they plan to provide further working capital by means of borrowing
2.1Indicating a term to which an interpretation is to be assigned: what is meant by “fair?”
2.2Indicating a name according to which a person is known: she mostly calls me by my last name
2.3Indicating the means of transport selected for a journey: traveling by train to Boston
2.4Indicating the other parent of someone’s child or children: Richard is his son by his third wife
2.5Indicating the sire of a pedigree animal, especially a horse: a black filly by Goldfuerst
2.6(Followed by a noun without an adjective) 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
3Indicating the amount or size of a margin: the shot missed her by miles the raising of taxes by 2.5%
3.1Indicating a unit of measurement: billing is by the minute
3.2In phrases indicating something happening repeatedly or progressively, typically with repetition of a unit of time: colors changing minute by minute the risk becomes worse by the day
3.3Identifying a parameter: a breakdown of employment figures by age and occupation
3.4Expressing multiplication, often in dimensions: a map measuring 24 by 36 inches she multiplied it by 89
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
Synonyms
no later than, in good time for, at, before
5Indicating location of a physical object beside a place or object: remains were discovered by the roadside the lamp was by the door
Synonyms
next to, beside, alongside, by/at the side of, adjacent to, side by side with;
near, close to, neighboring, adjoining, bordering, overlooking;
connected to, contiguous with, attached to
5.1Past; beyond: I drove by our house
Synonyms
past, in front of, 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
Synonyms
according to, with, as far as —— is concerned
8Used in mild oaths: it was the least he could do, by God
Partly translating French par 'through the medium or agency of'

adverb

So as to go past: a car flashed by on the other side of the road he let only a moment go by

noun (plural byes)

variant spelling of bye1.

Phrases

1

by and by

Before long; eventually.
Synonyms
eventually, ultimately, finally, in the end, one day, some day, sooner or later, in time, in a while, in the long run, in the fullness of time, in time to come, at length, in the future, in due course, over the long haul
2

by the by (or bye)

Incidentally; parenthetically: where’s Hector, by the by?
3

by and large

On the whole; everything considered: mammals have, by and large, bigger brains than reptiles
Originally in nautical use, describing the handling of a ship both with the wind and against it
Synonyms
on the whole, generally, in general, all things considered, all in all, for the most part, in the main, as a rule, overall, almost always, mainly, mostly;
on average, on balance
4

by oneself

1Alone: living in that big house by himself
2Unaided: the patient often learns to undress by himself
5

by way of

see way.

Origin

Old English , bi, be, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bij and German bei.

Words that rhyme with by

ally, Altai, apply, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, cry, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, dry, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, fly, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lie, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shanghai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, try, tumble-dry, underlie, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai
Share this entry
 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.