Meaning of “by” - Learner’s Dictionary


preposition us uk strong /baɪ/ weak /, /
Extra Examples
They were woken up by someone banging on the door.This sweater has to be washed by hand.He was physically abused by his alcoholic father.The plane was hijacked by terrorists.The tent was held up by ropes.

A2 used to show the person or thing that does something:

She was examined by a doctor.
The building had been destroyed by fire.
a painting by Van Gogh

A2 through doing or using something:

Can I pay by cheque?
I sent it by email.
We'll get there by car.
[ + doing sth ] Open the file by clicking on the icon.

B2 holding a particular part of someone or something:

She grabbed me by the arm.

B1 near or next to something or someone:

I'll meet you by the post office.
A small child stood by her side.

A2 not later than a particular time or date:

Applications have to be in by the 31st.

according to:

By law you must be eighteen to purchase alcohol.


He sped by me on a motorcycle.

used to show measurements or amounts:

twelve by ten metres of floor space
Interest rates have been increased by 0.25%.
I'm paid by the hour.
Copies have sold by the million.
by accident/chance/mistake, etc

B1 as a result of an accident/chance/mistake, etc:

I went to the wrong room by mistake.
by day/night

during the day/night

day by day/little by little/one by one, etc

used in particular phrases to mean 'gradually' or 'in units of':

Day by day he grew stronger.

(Definition of “by preposition” from the Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)