early Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “early” in the English Dictionary

"early" in British English

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earlyadjective, adverb

uk   /ˈɜː.li/  us   /ˈɝː-/ (earlier, earliest)
A1 near the ​beginning of a ​period of ​time, or before the ​usual, ​expected, or ​plannedtime: 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 ​usualtime). She was a ​poetliving in the early 15th ​century. He ​learned to ​read at the early age of three. It's a little early to be ​sowingcarrotseeds, isn't it? Henry Ford was a ​pioneer during the early days/​years of ​carmanufacture. 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 ​shorttime 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 Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"early" in American English

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earlyadjective, adverb [-er/-est only]

 us   /ˈɜr·li/
near the ​beginning of (a ​period of ​time), or before the ​usual, ​expected, or ​plannedtime: 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 ​allowedtime) you can go ​home. Detroit has been an ​automotivecenter since the early ​days/​years (= the ​beginningtime) of ​carmanufacturing. Here’s a ​dish I ​prepared earlier (= I made a ​shorttime ago). It was a ​greatrace for Needles, who took the ​lead early on (= ​soon after the ​start).
(Definition of early from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"early" in Business English

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earlyadjective

uk   us   /ˈɜːli/ (earlier, earliest)
at your earliest convenience used to ​ask someone to do something, or to say that you will do something as soon as possible: Please give me a ​call back at your earliest ​convenience on ​extension one two four seven.
(Definition of early from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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