1. Earlier in time: They called me the day before.
2. In front; ahead.
1. Previous to in time; earlier than.
2. In front of.
3. In store for; awaiting: The young man's whole life lies before him.
4. Into or in the presence of: She asked that the visitor be brought before her.
5. Under the consideration or jurisdiction of: The case is now before the court.
6. In a position superior to: The prince is before his brother in the line of succession.
1. In advance of the time when: See me before you leave.
2. Rather than; sooner than: I will die before I will betray my country.
[Middle English bifore, from Old English beforan; see per1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.