Definition of before preposition from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//bɪˈfɔː(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɪˈfɔːr//
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  1. 1  earlier than somebody/something before lunch the day before yesterday The year before last he won a gold medal, and the year before that he won a silver. She's lived there since before the war. He arrived before me. She became a lawyer as her father had before her. Leave your keys at reception before departure. Something ought to have been done before now. We'll know before long (= soon). Turn left just before (= before you reach) the bank.
  2. 2(rather formal) used to say that somebody/something is in a position in front of somebody/something They knelt before the throne. Before you is a list of the points we have to discuss. compare behind
  3. 3  used to say that somebody/something is ahead of somebody/something in an order or arrangement Your name is before mine on the list. He puts his work before everything (= regards it as more important than anything else).
  4. 4  used to say that something is facing somebody in the future The task before us is a daunting one. The whole summer lay before me.
  5. 5in the presence of somebody who is listening, watching, etc. He was brought before the judge. She said it before witnesses. They had the advantage of playing before their home crowd.
  6. 6(formal) used to say how somebody reacts when they have to face somebody/something They retreated before the enemy.
  7. Word OriginOld English beforan (see by, fore), of Germanic origin; related to German bevor.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: before