What does before mean?

Definitions for before
bɪˈfɔr, -ˈfoʊrbe·fore

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage 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.


  1. before

    Before refers to a time, event, or circumstance that precedes another specific time, event, or circumstance. It denotes something that happens or occurs prior or in advance of something else. It can also refer to a spatial position that is in front of or prior to another object or location.

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. Deshaun Watson:

    I understand the whole circumstance is very difficult, especially for the women’s side — the fans in this community. I ’m not naive to that, i know these allegations are very, very serious, but like I mentioned before, I’ve never assaulted any woman. I never disrespected any woman. I was raised by a single parent mom. … That’s who raised me.

  2. Jordan Libowitz:

    We have never seen an administration before with this level of issues with financial disclosures, both in number and scale, the tone is set at the top, and when you have a President that does not appear to care about ethics issues -- especially around finances -- it's not surprising that you have an administration that doesn't either.

  3. Prince Edward:

    Listen, weirdly we've all been there before -- we've all had excessive intrusion and attention in our lives. And we've all dealt with it in slightly different ways, and listen, we wish them the very best of luck. It's a really hard decision.

  4. Elise Stefanik:

    When you talk to any voter across this country, certainly at any Republican event, they are focused on election security and election integrity, it is important to stand up for these constitutional issues and these are questions that are going to have to be answered before we head into the 2022 midterms so that the American people have faith in our election system.

  5. Chrystal Harwood:

    Before I even got to tell her to just get out, shed hung up on me. I couldnt get back through to her. I tried so many times, she was amazing. She was such a strong, loving woman.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for before

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for before »


Find a translation for the before definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"before." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 26 Feb. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/before>.

Discuss these before definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for before? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    dark brown mustelid of woodlands of Eurasia that gives off an unpleasant odor when threatened
    • A. macron
    • B. confrere
    • C. foumart
    • D. volubility

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for before: