American English

Definition of early adverb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

     

    early

     adverb
    adverb
    NAmE//ˈərli//
     
    (earlier, earliest)
     
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  1. 1 near the beginning of a period of time, an event, a piece of work, etc. early in the week/year/season/morning The best rooms go to those who reserve earliest. We arrived early the next day. We meet the hero very early in the film. He started writing music as early as 1989. opposite late
  2. 2before the usual, expected, or planned time The bus came five minutes early. I woke up early this morning. The baby arrived earlier than expected. early flowering plants opposite late
  3. 3earlier before the present time or the time mentioned As I mentioned earlier… a week earlier She had seen him earlier in the day. opposite later
  4. Idioms at an early stage of a situation, relationship, period of time, etc. I knew early on that I wanted to marry her.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: early