Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “by”

by

preposition uk   /baɪ/ us  

by preposition (AGENT)

A2 used to show the person or thing that does something: The motorcycle was driven by a tiny bald man. We were amazed by what she told us. I'm reading some short stories (written) by Chekhov. The book was translated by a well-known author. I felt frightened by the anger in his voice.

by preposition (METHOD)

A2 used to show how something is done: They travelled across Europe by train/car. She did the decorating (all) by herself (= alone, without help from anyone). We went in by (= through) the front door. Do you wish to be paid in cash or by cheque? He learned English by listening to the radio. Suddenly, she grabbed him by the arm (= took hold of this part of his body). I refuse to live by (= following) their rules.Ways of achieving things

by preposition (NOT LATER THAN)

A2 not later than; at or before: She had promised to be back by five o'clock. The application must be in by the 31st to be accepted. By the time I got to the station the train had already gone.Before, after and alreadyAfter and behind

by preposition (MEASUREMENT)

B2 used to show measurements or amounts: Our office floor space measured twelve metres by ten (= was twelve metres in one direction and ten in the other). Their wages were increased by 15 percent. Freelance workers are paid by the hour (= for every hour they work). These phones have sold by the thousand.

by preposition (DURING)

during: We travelled by night and rested by day.Simultaneous and consecutiveOrder and sequence
by nature, profession, trade, etc. used when describing someone's character, job, etc.: She is, by nature, a sunny, positive sort of a person. He's a plumber by trade. She was, by profession, a lawyer.Jobs, careers and professionsWorking
be all right/fine by sb If something is all right/fine by someone, they agree that it can happen: "I'd prefer to go later." "That's fine by me." If it's all right by you, I'd like to leave now.Accepting and agreeingAccepting and agreeing reluctantlyApproving and approval
Idioms

by

(Definition of by from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of by?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “by” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

bitter

a type of dark brown beer with a bitter taste

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More