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



    BrE BrE//baɪ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//baɪ//
    jump to other results
  1. 1  near somebody/something; at the side of somebody/something; beside somebody/something a house by the river The telephone is by the window. Come and sit by me.
  2. 2  used, usually after a passive verb, to show who or what does, creates or causes something He was knocked down by a bus. a play by Ibsen Who's that book by? I was frightened by the noise.
  3. 3  used for showing how or in what way something is done The house is heated by gas. May I pay by credit card? I will contact you by letter. to travel by boat/bus/car/plane to travel by air/land/sea Switch it on by pressing this button.
  4. 4  used before particular nouns without the, to say that something happens as a result of something They met by chance. I did it by mistake. The coroner's verdict was ‘death by misadventure’.
  5. 5  not later than the time mentioned; before Can you finish the work by five o'clock? I'll have it done by tomorrow. By this time next week we'll be in New York. He ought to have arrived by now/by this time. By the time (that) this letter reaches you I will have left the country.
  6. 6  past somebody/something He walked by me without speaking.
  7. 7  during something; in a particular situation to travel by day/night We had to work by candlelight.
  8. 8  used to show the degree or amount of something The bullet missed him by two inches. House prices went up by 10%. It would be better by far (= much better) to…
  9. 9  from what something shows or says; according to something By my watch it is two o'clock. I could tell by the look on her face that something terrible had happened. By law, you are a child until you are 18.
  10. 10  used to show the part of somebody/something that somebody touches, holds, etc. I took him by the hand. She seized her by the hair. Pick it up by the handle!
  11. 11  used with the to show the period or quantity used for buying, selling or measuring something We rented the car by the day. They're paid by the hour. We only sell it by the metre.
  12. 12  used to state the rate at which something happens They're improving day by day. We'll do it bit by bit. It was getting worse by the minute (= very fast). The children came in two by two (= in groups of two).
  13. 13  used to show the measurements of something The room measures fifteen feet by twenty feet.
  14. 14  used when multiplying or dividing 6 multiplied by 2 equals 12. 6 divided by 2 equals 3.
  15. 15used for giving more information about where somebody comes from, what somebody does, etc. He's German by birth. They're both doctors by profession.
  16. 16used when swearing to mean ‘in the name of’ I swear by Almighty God…
  17. Word OriginOld English , bi, be, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bij and German bei.Idioms = by the way
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: by