by 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 “by” in the English Dictionary

"by" in British English

See all translations

bypreposition

uk   /baɪ/  us   /baɪ/
  • 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.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • 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 want 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.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • 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.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • 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 (= several thousand have been sold).
minute by minute/hour by hour/day by day, etc. (also by the minute/hour/day, etc.)
used to say that something increases or changes with every minute, hour, day, etc. that passes: The death toll from the hurricane was climbing minute by minute/by the minute. The credibility of the campaign has deterioriated month by month/by the month.
minute-by-minute/hour-by-hour, etc.
describing or showing what happens every minute, hour, etc.: a minute-by-minute timeline of the incident The book paints a detailed, week-by-week portrait of his father's illness.
by nature, profession, trade, etc.
used when describing someone's character, job, etc.: She is, by nature, a sunny, positive kind of person. He's a plumber by trade. She was, by profession, a lawyer.
be all right/fine by sb
If something is all right/fine by someone, they agree that it can happen: "I'd rather go later." "That's fine by me." If it's all right by you, I'd like to leave now.

byadverb

uk   /baɪ/  us   /baɪ/
Idioms
(Definition of by from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"by" in American English

See all translations

bypreposition

 us   /bɑɪ/
  • by preposition (CAUSE)

used to show the person or thing that causes something to happen or to exist: The car was driven by a short, bald man. I’m reading some short stories by Chekhov. I took her umbrella by mistake.
  • by preposition (METHOD)

used to show how something is done: They thought about flying to Boston but decided to go by car. She did the repair work by herself (= without help). Do you want to be paid in cash or by check? He learned English by listening to the radio.
  • by preposition (ACCORDING TO)

according to: By my watch, it’s 2 o’clock. The students were listed by name.
  • by preposition (NOT LATER THAN)

not later than; at or before: She promised to be back by 10 p.m.
  • by preposition (MEASUREMENT)

used to show measurements or amounts: Their wages increased by 12%. The room measures 15 feet by 20 feet.
  • by preposition (DURING)

during: We traveled by night and rested by day.

bypreposition, adverb [not gradable]

 us   /bɑɪ/
near, beside, or (in distance or time) past: A small child stood quietly by her side. Claire waved as she drove by. As time went by, she became more attached to him.
(Definition of by from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of by?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website
A blazing row: words and phrases for arguing and arguments
A blazing row: words and phrases for arguing and arguments
by ,
May 04, 2016
by Kate Woodford We can’t always focus on the positive! This week, we’re looking at the language that is used to refer to arguing and arguments, and the differences in meaning between the various words and phrases. There are several words that suggest that people are arguing about something that is not important. (As you might

Read More 

Word of the Day

galaxy

one of the independent groups of stars in the universe

Word of the Day

trigger warning noun
trigger warning noun
May 02, 2016
a warning that a subject may trigger unpleasant emotions or memories This is not, I should stress, an argument that trigger warnings should become commonplace on campus.

Read More