American English

Definition of late adverb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1after the expected, arranged, or usual time I got up late. Can I stay up late tonight? She has to work late tomorrow. Most stores are open later on Thursdays. She married late. The birthday card arrived three days late.
  2. 2near the end of a period of time, a person's life, etc. late in March/the afternoon It happened late last year. As late as (= as recently as) the 1950s, tuberculosis was still a fatal illness. He became an author late in life.
  3. 3near the end of the day There's a good movie on late. Late that night, there was a knock at the door. Share prices fell early on but rose again late in the day. They worked late into the night to finish the report. opposite early, later
  4. Grammarlate / latelyLate and lately are both adverbs, but late is used with similar meanings to the adjective late, whereas lately can only mean “recently”:We arrived two hours late. I haven’t heard from him lately.Lately is usually used with a perfect tense of the verb.Look also at the idioms be too late (at the adjective) and too late (at the adverb).Idioms
    better late than never (saying)
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    used especially when you, or someone else, arrive/arrives late, or when something such as success happens late, to say that this is better than not coming or happening at all
    late in the game/day (disapproving)
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    after the time when an action could be successful He finally came up with some great ideas, but it was much too late in the game to be of any use.
    late of… (formal)
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    until recently working or living in the place mentioned Professor Jones, late of Stanford University
    of late (formal)
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    recently I haven't seen him of late. The situation has become more confusing of late.
    sooner or later
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    at some time in the future, even if you are not sure exactly when Sooner or later you will have to make a decision.
    sooner rather than later
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    after a short time rather than after a long time We urged them to sort out the problem sooner rather than later.
    after the time when it is possible to do something successfully She arrived too late to get a ticket. I realized the truth too late.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: late