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[urst] /ɜrst/
adverb, Archaic.
before the present time; formerly.
Origin of erst
before 1000; Middle English erest, Old English ǣrest (cognate with Old High German ērist, German erst), equivalent to ǣr ere + -est -est1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for erst
Historical Examples
  • The Master said, erst the cold days show how fir and cypress are last to fade.

  • It was thus my cousin Surrey's life was saved that was erst a weakling.'

    Privy Seal Ford Madox Ford
  • The phrase is confined to AR and its group; elsewhere at erst is used.

  • Who shall say that hallelujahs shall not yet tremble on the lips where erst were curses?

    Rose Clark Fanny Fern
  • And the child lulled the parent, as the parent had erst lulled the child.

    Shirley Charlotte Bront
  • The pipe that erst he fashioned is doubtless scored with rust?

    Theocritus Theocritus
  • Where erst it was, had turn'd; and steady glow'd, As candle in his socket.

  • Anna did not like her erst fellow-country-man, and she considered that she had good reason for her dislike.

    Good Old Anna Marie Belloc Lowndes
  • Yes, surely you are, I have erst seen that face, and heard that same flippant tongue.

  • Tell me, soul-searching ray, if erst I strove To cherish, feed and guard where grew no love.

    Victor Roy, A Masonic Poem Harriet Annie Wilkins
British Dictionary definitions for erst


adverb (archaic)
long ago; formerly
at first
Word Origin
Old English ǣrest earliest, superlative of ǣr early; see ere; related to Old High German ērist, Dutch eerst
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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