Language: Old English
Origin: beforan, from foran 'before', from fore; FORE-


2 preposition
before2 S1 W1
1 earlier than something or someone [≠ after]:
The new road should be completed before the end of the year.
Let's meet at our house before the show.
Larry arrived home before me.
five minutes/two hours etc before something
Hugh arrived just five minutes before the ceremony.
before doing something
I usually take a shower before having my breakfast.
We only got back from Scotland the day before yesterday (=two days ago).
Other students joined in the protest, and before long (=soon) there was a crowd of 200 or so.
see usage note ago
2 ahead of someone or something else in a list or order [≠ after]:
You were before me in the queue.
The files are in alphabetical order, so B1 comes before C1.
3 used to say that something happens where it can be watched by people:
Italy will face Brazil this afternoon before a crowd of 100,000 spectators.
an actor who had performed before the Queen
4 used to say that someone or something comes to be judged or considered by a person or group of people:
The proposal was put before the planning committee.
5 used to say that one thing or person is considered more important than another:
I put my wife and kids before anyone else.
In the air transport business, safety must always come before profit.
6 formal in front of something or someone:
The priest stood before the altar.
The sea stretched out before them.
7 if one place is before another place on a road or journey, the first place is nearer to you than the second, so you will reach it first [≠ after]:
The pub is 100m before the church on the right.
the last station before the Simplon Tunnel
8 formal if there is a job or situation before you, you will have to do the job or face the situation:
The task of emptying the house lay before us.
9 formal if a period of time is before you, it is about to start and you can do what you want during it:
We had a glorious summer afternoon before us to do as we pleased.
You have your whole life before you.

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