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early

[ur-lee] /ˈɜr li/
adverb, earlier, earliest.
1.
in or during the first part of a period of time, a course of action, a series of events, etc.:
early in the year.
2.
in the early part of the morning:
to get up early.
3.
before the usual or appointed time; ahead of time:
They came early and found their hosts still dressing.
4.
far back in time:
The Greeks early learned to sail and navigate.
adjective, earlier, earliest.
5.
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.
6.
occurring before the usual or appointed time:
an early dinner.
7.
belonging to a period far back in time:
early French architecture.
8.
occurring in the near future:
I look forward to an early reply.
9.
(of a fruit or vegetable) appearing or maturing before most others of its type:
early apples.
noun, plural earlies.
10.
a fruit or vegetable that appears before most others of its type.
Idioms
11.
early on, with but little time elapsed; early in the course of a process, project, etc.; early in the game.
Origin of early
950
before 950; Middle English erlich (adj.), erliche (adv.), Old English ǣrlīc, ǣrlīce, mutated variant of ārlīc, ārlīce, equivalent to ār- early (positive of ǣr ere) + līc(e) -ly
Related forms
earliness, noun
Synonyms
5. initial. 6. beforehand, premature.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for earlier
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "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 Mary Austin
  • "You ought to have spoken of it earlier in the day," he went on slowly.

    Rico and Wiseli Johanna Spyri
  • He thought of what Mrs. Bothwell had said earlier in the day.

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
  • Hinde had parted from them earlier that evening than he had intended or they had expected.

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
British Dictionary definitions for earlier

early

/ˈɜːlɪ/
adjective -lier, -liest
1.
before the expected or usual time
2.
occurring in or characteristic of the first part of a period or sequence
3.
occurring in or characteristic of a period far back in time
4.
occurring in the near future
5.
at the earliest, not before the time or date mentioned
6.
early days, too soon to tell how things will turn out
adverb -lier
7.
before the expected or usual time
8.
near the first part of a period or sequence: I was talking to him earlier
Derived Forms
earliness, noun
Word Origin
Old English ǣrlīce, from ǣrere + -līce-ly²; 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
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Word Origin and History for earlier

early

adv.

Old English ærlic "early," from ær "soon, ere" (see ere) + -lice, adverbial suffix (see -ly (2)). Cf. Old Norse arliga "early." The early bird of the proverb is from 1670s. Related: Earlier; earliest.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with earlier
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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