What does before mean?

Definitions for before
bɪˈfɔr, -ˈfoʊrbe·fore

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word before.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. earlier, beforeadverb

    earlier in time; previously

    "I had known her before"; "as I said before"; "he called me the day before but your call had come even earlier"; "her parents had died four years earlier"; "I mentioned that problem earlier"

  2. ahead, in front, beforeadverb

    at or in the front

    "I see the lights of a town ahead"; "the road ahead is foggy"; "staring straight ahead"; "we couldn't see over the heads of the people in front"; "with the cross of Jesus marching on before"


  1. beforeadverb

    at an earlier time

    I've never done this before.

  2. beforeadverb

    in advance

  3. beforeconjunction

    in advance of the time when

  4. beforeconjunction

    rather or sooner than

  5. beforepreposition

    Earlier than (in time).

    I want this done before Monday.

  6. beforepreposition

    In front of in space.

    He stood before me.

  7. beforepreposition

    Under consideration, judgment, authority of (someone).

    The case laid before the panel aroused nothing but ridicule.

  8. beforepreposition

    In store for, in the future of (someone).

    The period before us looks grim because of the economical crisis.

  9. beforepreposition

    In front of, according to a formal system of ordering items.

    In alphabetical order, "cat" comes before "dog", "canine" before feline".

  10. beforepreposition

    At a higher or greater position in a subjective ranking.

    An entrepreneur puts market share and profit before quality, an amateur intrinsic qualities before economical considerations.

  11. Etymology: From (adverb and preposition), from beforan, itself from be- + foran 'before' (from fore)

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Beforeadverb

    Heav’nly born,
    Before the hills appear’d, or fountain flow’d,
    Thou with eternal wisdom didst converse. Par. Lost, b. vii.

    Before two months their orb with light adorn,
    If heav’n allow me life, I will return. John Dryden, Fables.

    Such a plenteous crop they bore
    Of purest and well winnow’d grain,
    As Britain never knew before. Dryden.

    I shall resume somewhat which hath been before said, touching the question beforegoing. Matthew Hale, Origin of Mankind.

    Before this elaborate treatise can become of use to my country, two points are necessary. Jonathan Swift.

    The peaceful cities of th’ Ausonian shore,
    Lull’d in their ease, and undisturb’d before,
    Are all on fire. John Dryden, Æneid.

    You tell me, mother, what I knew before,
    The Phrygian fleet is landed on the shore. John Dryden, Æneid.

    Thou’rt so far before,
    The swiftest wing of recompence is slow
    To overtake. William Shakespeare.

  2. Beforeprep.

    Etymology: biforan, Sax.

    Their common practice was to look no further before them than the next line; whence it will follow, that they can drive to no certain point. Dryden.

    Who shall go
    Before them in a cloud, and pillar of fire:
    By day a cloud, by night a pillar of fire,
    To guide them in their journey, and remove
    Behind them, while th’ obdurate king pursues. Par. Lost.

    Great queen of gathering clouds,
    See, we fall before thee!
    Prostrate we adore thee! John Dryden, Albion.

    The Alps and Pyreneans sink before him. Joseph Addison, Cato.

    We see that blushing, and the casting down of the eyes both, are more when we come before many. Francis Bacon.

    They represent our poet betwixt a farmer and a courtier, when he drest himself in his best habit, to appear before his patron. John Dryden, Virgil, Dedication.

    Before the eyes of both our armies here,
    Let us not wrangle. William Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar.

    If a suit be begun before an archdeacon, the ordinary may license the suit to an higher court. John Ayliffe, Parergon.

    Give us this evening; thou hast morn and night,
    And all the year before thee, for delight. Dryden.

    He hath put us in the hands of our own counsel. Life and death, prosperity and destruction, are before us. John Tillotson.

    Her part, poor soul! seeming as burdened
    With lesser weight, but not with lesser woe,
    Was carried with more speed before the wind. William Shakespeare, Com. of Err.

    Hurried by fate, he cries, and born before
    A furious wind, we leave the faithful shore. Dryden.

    Particular advantages it has before all the books which have appeared before it in this kind. John Dryden, Dufresnoy.

    We should but presume to determine which should be the fittest, till we see he hath chosen some one, which one we may then boldly say to be the fittest, because he hath taken it before the rest. Richard Hooker, b. iii.

    We think poverty to be infinitely desirable before the torments of covetousness. Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Before

    in front of; preceding in space; ahead of; as, to stand before the fire; before the house

  2. Before

    preceding in time; earlier than; previously to; anterior to the time when; -- sometimes with the additional idea of purpose; in order that

  3. Before

    an advance of; farther onward, in place or time

  4. Before

    prior or preceding in dignity, order, rank, right, or worth; rather than

  5. Before

    in presence or sight of; face to face with; facing

  6. Before

    under the cognizance or jurisdiction of

  7. Before

    open for; free of access to; in the power of

  8. Beforeadverb

    on the fore part; in front, or in the direction of the front; -- opposed to in the rear

  9. Beforeadverb

    in advance

  10. Beforeadverb

    in time past; previously; already

  11. Beforeadverb

    earlier; sooner than; until then


  1. Before

    "Before" is a single by UK electronic music group Pet Shop Boys released as the first single from the group's 1996 album Bilingual. The single, upon its release, peaked at #7 on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, it reached #1 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play and reached #7 on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, equalling #107 on the main U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Before

    be-fōr′, prep. in front of (time or place): in presence or sight of (Before God): under the cognisance of, as in before the court, the magistrate, or the house: previous to: in preference to: superior to.—adv. in front: sooner than hitherto.—conj. previous to the time when (often with that).—advs. Before′hand, before the time: by way of preparation; Before′time, in former time.—To be beforehand with, to forestall in any action. [A.S. beforan. See Fore.]

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'before' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #180

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'before' in Written Corpus Frequency: #312

  3. Adverbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'before' in Adverbs Frequency: #82

How to pronounce before?

How to say before in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of before in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of before in Pythagorean Numerology is: 6

Examples of before in a Sentence

  1. Eilat Mazar:

    A discovery like this — ancient coins bearing the words ‘Freedom’ and ‘Redemption’ — found right before the Jewish Festival of Freedom—Passover — begins is incredibly moving.

  2. Alexandr Dolgopolov:

    It's my right knee, I had surgery on it last year and it started to feel the same as before, the knee is locked, I'm going to get a scan and I really hope I'll be able to play but I'm not sure of that. I'm just hoping I can get out on court. That would be good for me.

  3. Larry Summers:

    The Fed's idea used to be that Federal Reserve removed the punchbowl before the party got good, now, the Fed's doctrine is that it will only remove the punchbowl after it sees some people staggering around drunk.

  4. Hussein Ali:

    We fired (at) the suicide car bomb before it entered the base. It exploded outside the base. Only seven Somali soldiers were injured.

  5. Prime Minister Manuel Valls:

    The terrorism threat is at an unprecedented level, nowadays, only one out of two people who go to Syria have been detected before they leave. We need to tighten the net on the surveillance of radicalized and dangerous people.

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Translations for before

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    large recently extinct long-horned European wild ox; considered one of the ancestors of domestic cattle
    • A. calcaneus
    • B. urus
    • C. hypostatization
    • D. liniment

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