Meaning of “former” in the English Dictionary

"former" in British English

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formeradjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˈfɔː.mər/ us /ˈfɔːr.mɚ/

B1 of or in an earlier time; before the present time or in the past:

his former wife
a former employer
the former president of the United States
The luxury apartments are in a former factory.
The painting was then restored to its former glory (= returned to its original good condition).
It was a long time after the accident before he seemed like his former self (= behaved in the way he had before).

More examples

  • We need a reference from your former employer.
  • Australia and New Zealand are former British colonies.
  • A large majority of the population is demanding the restoration of the former government.
  • She stiffened when her former husband walked into the room.
  • He's a former world heavyweight boxing champion.

formernoun [ S ]

uk /ˈfɔː.mər/ us /ˈfɔːr.mɚ/
the former

More examples

  • I agree with the latter point, but not with the former.
  • Of the two proposals, they accepted the former.
  • Of the two options, we've gone for the former.
  • The former was rejected in favour of the latter.
  • The heavyweight contest between Smith and Walker was decided when the former was knocked out in the second round.

B2 the first of two people, things, or groups previously mentioned:

Of the two suggestions, I prefer the former.
Compare

-formersuffix

uk / -fɔː.mər/ us / -fɔːr.mɚ/

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

"former" in American English

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formeradjective [ not gradable ]

us /ˈfɔr·mər/

former adjective [ not gradable ] (EARLIER)

of an earlier time, but not now:

The former president lives on his ranch.

formernoun [ U ]

us /ˈfɔr·mər/

former noun [ U ] (FIRST)

the first of two people, things, or groups previously mentioned:

Of the two suggestions, I prefer the former.

(Definition of “former” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"former" in Business English

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formeradjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˈfɔːmər/ us

used to describe something that existed or happened in the past

HR used to describe someone who had a particular position or job in the past:

former chairman/director/president He's a Washington-based health policy consultant and former insurance executive.
former colleague/employee/employer She was under investigation for allegedly defrauding her former employer out of $600,000.

(Definition of “former” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)