before Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Meaning of “before” in the English Dictionary

"before" in British English

See all translations

beforepreposition, adverb, conjunction

uk   /bɪˈfɔːr/ us   /bɪˈfɔːr/
A1 at or during a time earlier than (the thing mentioned): You should always wash your hands before meals. Before leaving he said goodbye to each of them. She's always up before dawn. Before he could reach the door, she quickly closed it. Before we make a decision, does anyone want to say anything else? She had to give the doorman a tip before he would help her with her suitcases (= he would not do it until she had given him a tip).
B1 until (the event mentioned): It was an hour before the police arrived.
A2 in the past: He said he had never seen her before. I feel as though I've been here before.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

beforepreposition

uk   /bɪˈfɔːr/ us   /bɪˈfɔːr/
B1 in front of: The letter K comes before L in the English alphabet. Many mothers put their children's needs before their own. We have the whole weekend before us - what do you want to do? He stood up before a whole roomful of people, and asked her to marry him.
A2 If a place is before another place, you will arrive at it first when you are travelling towards the second place: The bus stop is just before the school.
If something is before someone or before a group of people, it will be formally considered or examined by that person or group: The proposal before the committee is that we try and reduce our spending by ten percent. The men appeared before the judge yesterday.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

(Definition of before from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"before" in American English

See all translations

beforepreposition, conjunction, adverb [not gradable]

us   /bɪˈfɔr, -ˈfoʊr/
at or during a time earlier than (the thing mentioned): I left early because I wanted to arrive home before dark. Before making up your mind, think about all your options. It was another half hour before (= until) the ambulance finally arrived. Less than a week before, he’d graduated from college.
before last
Before last means before the most recent: Today is Monday, so the day before last was Saturday.

beforepreposition

us   /bɪˈfɔr, -ˈfoʊr/
  • before preposition (IN FRONT)

in front of: It took courage to stand before a courtroom full of people.
(Definition of before from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of before?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website
Avoiding common errors with the word enough.
Avoiding common errors with the word enough.
by ,
May 25, 2016
by Liz Walter Enough is a very common word, but it is easy to make mistakes with it. You need to be careful about its position in a sentence, and the prepositions or verb patterns that come after it. I’ll start with the position of enough in the sentence. When we use it with a noun,

Read More 

Word of the Day

ultraviolet

Ultraviolet light has a wavelength that is after the violet (= light purple) end of the range of colours that can be seen by humans. Light of this type causes the skin to become darker in the sun.

Word of the Day

convo noun
convo noun
May 23, 2016
informal a conversation The convo around concussions mostly focuses on guys who play football, but Chastain thinks that this whole thing could be a headache for women too.

Read More