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English definition of “early”

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early

adjective, adverb uk   /ˈɜː.li/ us    /ˈɝː-/ (earlier, earliest)
A1 near the beginning of a period of time, or before the usual, expected, or planned time: If you finish early you can go home. If you arrived earlier, you'd have more time. I like being a little early for interviews. They scored two goals early (on) in the game. I hate having to get up early (in the morning). I'm going to have an early night (= go to sleep before my usual time). She was a poet living in the early 15th century. He learned to read at the early age of three. It's a little early to be sowing carrot seeds, isn't it? Henry Ford was a pioneer during the early days/years of car manufacture. My earliest (= first) memory is of being shown around our new house. These are some of my early (= first) attempts at sculpture. Here's a dish I prepared earlier (= I made a short time ago). Early flowers and vegetables are ones that are ready early in the year, before most other ones.at the earliest C2 used after a date or time to show that something will not happen before then: I'm very busy, so I won't be with you till four o'clock at the earliest.
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(Definition of early from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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