Main definitions of former in English

: former1former2

former1

adjective

attributive
  • 1Having previously been a particular thing.

    ‘her former boyfriend’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The former Minister under the previous Government might have, but I doubt that.’
    • ‘The former member of her boyfriend's legal team was taken to a police station in the Manchester area and questioned by detectives.’
    • ‘Their judgment was based on fresh evidence from a former boyfriend of the alleged victim which showed her evidence was unreliable.’
    • ‘When former Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov visited Seoul recently, he also noted this new Vietnam connection.’
    • ‘We must not return to the days when former Home Secretaries cut police numbers.’
    • ‘New Governors are only appointed when former governors pass away.’
    • ‘As former administrative vice finance minister, Lin was the executive secretary of the stabilization fund until Wednesday.’
    • ‘One former team-mate was caught and exposed by the tabloids for having an affair.’
    • ‘As former colonies gained statehood, the practice frequently continued but steadily lost adherents.’
    • ‘Mrs Sharp added that former pupils from as far back as 1912 had returned to join in the fun.’
    • ‘In those states where former dictators won elections, no real reform has taken place.’
    • ‘The celebration continued with a reception where former colleagues, students and friends shared remembrances.’
    • ‘Much of this area, mostly former French colonies, is sparsely populated.’
    • ‘I don't have a problem being critical of players, even former teammates.’
    • ‘In 1950, it need not have hired former Communist party members.’
    • ‘Tonight, Larry's guest will be former vice presidential candidate John Edwards.’
    • ‘We'll talk with former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp about the government's role in maintaining prosperity.’
    one-time, erstwhile, sometime, late, as was
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Of or occurring in the past.
      ‘the seafarers of former times’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If we are successful, we can begin to restore this once majestic ancient woodland to its former glory.’
      • ‘I went back day after day to study it more, my former explorations temporarily forgotten.’
      • ‘We can see the mistakes and crimes of the past, and the seductive delusions of former times have lost their glamour.’
      • ‘All regret for the past is vain; every desire to revert to a former social stage is unreal.’
      • ‘She creates a character who is past her prime, still clinging to her former glory but feeling it slip away.’
      • ‘The team that starred at World Cup 02 are a shadow of their former selves and won't be in Germany this summer.’
      • ‘Not that one swallow makes a summer but there were flashes of former greatness.’
      • ‘Only this one remaining pair now choose Ilkley for their summer residence as a reminder of former years.’
      • ‘The Spirit of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to critical moments in his former life.’
      • ‘The data show no previous information on the former positions held by fifteen cabinet officials.’
      earlier, old, past, bygone, long-ago, forgotten, immemorial, remote
      View synonyms
  • 2the formerDenoting 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Psychologist Bob Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba subscribes to the former view.’
    • ‘I am inclined to think that the evidence points to the former view.’
    • ‘Colin Samson clearly takes the former view of the of the Innu experience.’
    • ‘In the classical view, the former component becomes zero at the endodermis.’
    • ‘I'd tend towards the former view, but I realise that's not usually how the world works.’
    • ‘At first I thought the former setup was more adaptable but I'm coming round to the idea that the latter has elegance.’
    • ‘In my view, however, a claim of the former kind is plainly raised, albeit there is also a claim under the express indemnity clause.’
    • ‘The former is a previous winner, while the latter has often come close without winning a cigar.’
    • ‘While the former long for the past, the latter try to come to terms with their dual identity as Chinese and Americans.’
    • ‘The beauty of the former design was that it kept the past current without effort.’
    • ‘He submits that the landlord must have chosen the former of those two routes.’
    • ‘Given the choice between withdrawing or dying, he would almost certainly choose the former.’
    • ‘But, of the two, we tend to prefer the former on morphological grounds.’
    • ‘Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but more of the latter than the former.’
    • ‘The most common reading among Marxist activists has been the former.’
    • ‘If a choice were between law and order kept by private military companies and anarchy, most people would opt for the former.’
    • ‘But the more you celebrate the former, the less likely you are to notice the latter.’
    first-mentioned, first
    View synonyms

Usage

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

Origin

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

Pronunciation

former

/ˈfɔːmə/

Main definitions of former in English

: former1former2

former2

noun

  • 1A person or thing that forms something.

    in combination ‘an opinion-former’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Could it be that the only sin left in the world today is to offend the sensibilities of liberal opinion formers and legislators?’
    • ‘We are daily assailed by the beguiling double-think of public opinion formers.’
    • ‘In order to balance the debate on the nutritional value of milk, the Danish Dairy Board in 1991 initiated a strategy for nutrition communication directed at health opinion formers.’
    • ‘Goodhart is an opinion former who is close to the government.’
    • ‘Herald Sun surveys show the views of ordinary people are quite different from those of many opinion formers.’
    • ‘Several ferrite formers also function as carbide formers.’
    • ‘Certain strong carbide formers, notably niobium, titanium and vanadium, have effects on tempering out of proportion to their concentration.’
    • ‘To alleviate this problem, small quantities of elements which are stronger carbide formers than chromium, such as titanium or niobium are commonly added.’
    • ‘Several ferrite formers also function as carbide formers.’
    • ‘Drunkenness, especially during holiday periods, disfigured the town and aroused the ire of the local opinion formers.’
    • ‘Care should be taken when recommending cranberry for long-term use in patients who are known urinary oxalate stone formers.’
    • ‘On the average, stone formers produce a new stone every two to three years.’
    • ‘Such people see getting these things as dependent on changing the ideas of opinion formers rather than mass agitation.’
    • ‘Stone formers and non-stone formers had the same risk of skeletal complications.’
    1. 1.1A tool, mould, or other device used to form articles or shape materials.
      ‘an arch former’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Wells was using a blunt chisel to push the silver disc back so that it would eventually take the shape of the cup-shaped wooden former.’
      • ‘Also needed will be gallant troops to go and steal a whole bundle of MX's for the body formers and filler.’
      • ‘Label all Peroxide formers with the exact date in which the container was initially opened.’
      • ‘The invention also provides a cover for a void former, which cover may include the spacer region and may be water tolerant, permitting reuse of the void formers with which it is used.’
      • ‘We also installed new case packers, a new check weigher system, robotic palletizers and automatic box formers.’
    2. 1.2A transverse strengthening part in an aircraft wing or fuselage.
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3A frame or core around which an electrical coil can be wound.
  • 2British in combination A person in a particular school year.

    ‘fifth-formers’

Pronunciation

former

/ˈfɔːmə/