- in or during the first part of a period of time, a course of action, a series of events, etc.: early in the year.
- in the early part of the morning: to get up early.
- before the usual or appointed time; ahead of time: They came early and found their hosts still dressing.
- far back in time: The Greeks early learned to sail and navigate.
- occurring in the first part of a period of time, a course of action, a series of events, etc.: an early hour of the day.
- occurring before the usual or appointed time: an early dinner.
- belonging to a period far back in time: early French architecture.
- occurring in the near future: I look forward to an early reply.
- (of a fruit or vegetable) appearing or maturing before most others of its type: early apples.
- a fruit or vegetable that appears before most others of its type.
- early on, with but little time elapsed; early in the course of a process, project, etc.; early in the game.
Origin of early
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
5. initial. 6. beforehand, premature.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for earlier
Earlier this week, Huckabee ended his Fox News talk show so he could spend time mulling another bid for the Republican nomination.Huckabee 2016: Bend Over and Take It Like a Prisoner!
January 8, 2015
In 2007, Huckabee said he stood by these earlier remarks, but would phrase them differently.The Devil in Mike Huckabee
January 6, 2015
The pilot had earlier called air-traffic control reporting heavy clouds and asked to move up to 38,000 feet from 32,000 feet.The Presumed Crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Is Nothing Like MH370
December 29, 2014
Correction: Officer Jose Rodriguez was misidentified in several places in an earlier version of this story.
Earlier, when the mayor spoke, some of the cops had turned their back on the Jumbotron that carried the service to the street.
"Paracelsus," so denominated, was one of Robert Browning's earlier poems.'Tis Sixty Years Since
Charles Francis Adams
Earlier in the evening there had been a Big Eating at Opata's, and now the men were dancing.The Trail Book
"You ought to have spoken of it earlier in the day," he went on slowly.Rico and Wiseli
He thought of what Mrs. Bothwell had said earlier in the day.
Hinde had parted from them earlier that evening than he had intended or they had expected.
- before the expected or usual time
- occurring in or characteristic of the first part of a period or sequence
- occurring in or characteristic of a period far back in time
- occurring in the near future
- at the earliest not before the time or date mentioned
- early days too soon to tell how things will turn out
- before the expected or usual time
- near the first part of a period or sequenceI was talking to him earlier
Old English ǣrlīce, from ǣr ere + -līce -ly ²; related to Old Norse arliga
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for earlier
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Idioms and Phrases with earlier
In addition to the idioms beginning with early
- early bird catches the worm
- early on
- early to bed, early to rise (makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.