- near to or next to: a home by a lake.
- over the surface of, through the medium of, along, or using as a route: He came by the highway. She arrived by air.
- on, as a means of conveyance: They arrived by ship.
- to and beyond the vicinity of; past: He went by the church.
- within the extent or period of; during: by day; by night.
- not later than; at or before: I usually finish work by five o'clock.
- to the extent or amount of: The new house is larger than the old one by a great deal. He's taller than his sister by three inches.
- from the opinion, evidence, or authority of: By his own account he was in Chicago at the time. I know him by sight.
- according to; in conformity with: This is a bad movie by any standards.
- with (something) at stake; on: to swear by all that is sacred.
- through the agency, efficacy, work, participation, or authority of: The book was published by Random House.
- from the hand, mind, invention, or creativity of: She read a poem by Emily Dickinson. The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison.
- in consequence, as a result, or on the basis of: We met by chance. We won the game by forfeit.
- accompanied with or in the atmosphere of: Lovers walk by moonlight.
- in treatment or support of; for: He did well by his children.
- after; next after, as of the same items in a series: piece by piece; little by little.
- (in multiplication) taken the number of times as that specified by the second number, or multiplier: Multiply 18 by 57.
- (in measuring shapes) having an adjoining side of, as a width relative to a length: a room 10 feet by 12 feet.
- (in division) separated into the number of equal parts as that specified by the second number, or divisor: Divide 99 by 33.
- in terms or amounts of; in measuring units of: Apples are sold by the bushel. I'm paid by the week.
- begot or born of: Eve had two sons by Adam.
- (of quadrupeds) having as a sire: Equipoise II by Equipoise.
- Navigation. (as used in the names of the 16 smallest points on the compass) one point toward the east, west, north, or south of N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, or NW, respectively: He sailed NE by N from Pago Pago.
- into, at, or to: Come by my office this afternoon.
- near; in the immediate vicinity; at hand: The school is close by.
- to and beyond a point near something; past: The car drove by.
- aside; away: Put your work by for the moment. Over the years, she laid by enough money to retire.
- over; past: in times gone by.
- by me,
- (in bridge and other bidding card games) a declaration that the speaker is passing.
- (in poker) a declaration that the speaker is checking: Is my pair of tens still high? By me.
- situated to one side: They came down a by passage.
- secondary, incidental: It was only a by comment.
- by and by, in a short time; before long; presently: The clouds will disappear by and by.
- by and large, in general; on the whole: By and large, there is much to be said for the new system.
- by the by. bye1(def 6).
Origin of by1
- goodbye: By now, come again sometime!
Origin of by2
- a combining form of by1: by-product; bystander; byway.
- used to indicate the agent after a passive verbseeds eaten by the birds
- used to indicate the person responsible for a creative workthis song is by Schubert
- via; throughenter by the back door
- followed by a gerund to indicate a means usedhe frightened her by hiding behind the door
- beside; next to; neara tree by the house
- passing the position of; pasthe drove by the old cottage
- not later than; beforereturn the books by Tuesday
- used to indicate extent, after a comparativeit is hotter by five degrees than it was yesterday
- (esp in oaths) invoking the name ofI swear by all the gods
- multiplied byfour by three equals twelve
- (in habitual sentences) during the passing of (esp in the phrases by day, by night)
- placed between measurements of the various dimensions of somethinga plank fourteen inches by seven
- nearthe house is close by
- away; asidehe put some money by each week for savings
- passing a point near something; pasthe drove by
- Scot past; over and done withthat's a' by now
- Scot aside; behind oneyou must put that by you
- a variant spelling of bye 1
- secondary or incidentalby-effect; by-election; by-path; by-product
- sport the situation in which a player or team in an eliminatory contest wins a preliminary round by virtue of having no opponent
- golf one or more holes of a stipulated course that are left unplayed after the match has been decided
- cricket a run scored off a ball not struck by the batsman: allotted to the team as an extra and not to the individual batsmanSee also leg bye
- something incidental or secondary
- by the bye incidentally; by the way: used as a sentence connector
- British informal goodbye
Word Origin and History for by
Old English be- (unstressed) or bi (stressed) "near, in, by, during, about," from Proto-Germanic *bi "around, about" (cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian bi "by near," Middle Dutch bie, Dutch bij, German bei "by, at, near," Gothic bi "about"), from *umbi (cognate with second element in PIE *ambhi "around," cf. Sanskrit abhi "toward, to," Greek amphi- "around, about;" see ambi-).
Originally an adverbial particle of place, in which sense it is retained in place names (Whitby, Grimsby, etc.). Elliptical use for "secondary course" (opposed to main; e.g. byway, also cf. by-blow "illegitimate child," 1590s) was in Old English. This also is the sense of the second by in the phrase by the by (1610s). By the way literally means "in passing by" (mid-14c.); used figuratively to introduce a tangential observation by 1540s.
Phrase by and by (early 14c.) originally meant "one by one," modern sense is from 1520s. By and large (1660s) originally was nautical, "sailing to the wind and off it," hence "in one direction then another."
in sporting use, a variant of by (prep). Originally in cricket, "a run scored on a ball that is missed by the wicket-keeper" (1746); later, in other sports, "position of one who is left without a competitor when the rest have drawn pairs" (1883), originally in lawn-tennis.
shortened form of good-bye. Reduplication bye-bye is recorded from 1709, though as a sound used to lull a child to sleep it is attested from 1630s.