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English definition of “early”

early

adjective, adverb [-er/-est only]    /ˈɜr·li/
near the beginning of (a period of time), or before the usual, expected, or planned time: I got up early this morning to walk the dog. Sheena’s in her early thirties. She arrived early for the interview. If you finish early (= before the end of the allowed time) you can go home. Detroit has been an automotive center since the early days/years (= the beginning time) of car manufacturing. Here’s a dish I prepared earlier (= I made a short time ago). It was a great race for Needles, who took the lead early on (= soon after the start).
(Definition of early adjective, adverb from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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