Meaning of before in English:


Pronunciation /bɪˈfɔː/

See synonyms for before

Translate before into Spanish


  • 1During the period of time preceding a particular event or time.

    ‘my playing days had ended six years before’
    • ‘it's never happened to me before’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We wanted to get the work started some four to six weeks ago before the weather turned.’
    • ‘Remove them from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes before slicing in half.’
    • ‘Four months before her death she gave him her blessing to go ahead with the procedure.’
    • ‘We went for a nice meal with the parents yesterday before having to catch the train home.’
    • ‘We have met for a drink and a chat before dinner at a local restaurant with some of her mates.’
    • ‘He looked at the clock and decided he better go visit Thomas before his dinner meeting.’
    • ‘We had to go home and wait four hours before phoning the hospital for the result.’
    • ‘He will also oversee the opening of another four shops before the end of the year.’
    • ‘He had served with the Territorial Army before the war and rose to the rank of captain.’
    • ‘He said three to four minutes passed before someone came to take him down to the cells.’
    • ‘It turned out that the pilot spoke some English and had visited Boston before the war.’
    • ‘He was crossing the road to visit a nearby newsagents to buy milk before he went swimming.’
    • ‘She waited until she heard his car faded away before standing and getting her bags.’
    • ‘Hastily he picked the book up and handed it to her and bowed his head before standing.’
    • ‘Ben led his friend to the bench on his long porch and then they both sat down before he answered.’
    • ‘He sat up straight for some time before realising there were two people in front of him.’
    • ‘I always prefer to read a book before I see a film, so that I can have my own images in my head.’
    previously, before now, before then, until now, until then, up to now, up to then
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  • 2 archaic In front of someone or something.

    ‘they began trotting through the city with guards running before and behind’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Lia dug her hands into her jacket pockets, her eyes resting on the figure before her.’
    • ‘There was a stage at the front and the Headmaster was stood at it, before a microphone.’
    • ‘No one else appeared to be aware of the fearful events that were unfolding before my eyes.’


  • 1In advance of the time when.

    ‘they lived rough for four days before they were arrested’
    • ‘it wasn't long before I dozed off’
  • 2In preference to (doing a particular thing)

    • ‘they would die before they would cooperate with each other’


  • 1During the period of time preceding (a particular event or time)

    ‘she had to rest before dinner’
    • ‘the day before yesterday’
    • ‘before the war’
    prior to, previous to, earlier than, preparatory to, in preparation for, preliminary to, in anticipation of, in expectation of
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  • 2In front of.

    ‘Matilda stood before her, panting’
    • ‘the patterns swam before her eyes’
    in front of, in the presence of, in the sight of
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    1. 2.1In 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’
      in front of, in the presence of, in the sight of
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  • 3In preference to; rather than.

    • ‘a skilled warrior who places duty before all else’
    in preference to, rather than, sooner than, above, over, instead of
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Old English beforan(see by, fore), of Germanic origin; related to German bevor.