[ bahy ]
See synonyms for by on
  1. near to or next to: a home by a lake.

  2. over the surface of, through the medium of, along, or using as a route: He came by the highway. She arrived by air.

  1. on, as a means of conveyance: They arrived by ship.

  2. to and beyond the vicinity of; past: He went by the church.

  3. within the extent or period of; during: by day; by night.

  4. not later than; at or before: I usually finish work by five o'clock.

  5. 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.

  6. from the opinion, evidence, or authority of: By his own account he was in Chicago at the time. I know him by sight.

  7. according to; in conformity with: This is a bad movie by any standards.

  8. with (something) at stake; on: to swear by all that is sacred.

  9. through the agency, efficacy, work, participation, or authority of: The book was published by Random House.

  10. from the hand, mind, invention, or creativity of: She read a poem by Emily Dickinson. The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison.

  11. in consequence, as a result, or on the basis of: We met by chance. We won the game by forfeit.

  12. accompanied with or in the atmosphere of: Lovers walk by moonlight.

  13. in treatment or support of; for: He did well by his children.

  14. after; next after, as of the same items in a series: piece by piece; little by little.

  15. (in multiplication) taken the number of times as that specified by the second number, or multiplier: Multiply 18 by 57.

  16. (in measuring shapes) having an adjoining side of, as a width relative to a length: a room 10 feet by 12 feet.

  17. (in division) separated into the number of equal parts as that specified by the second number, or divisor: Divide 99 by 33.

  18. in terms or amounts of; in measuring units of: Apples are sold by the bushel. I'm paid by the week.

  19. begot or born of: Eve had two sons by Adam.

  20. (of quadrupeds) having as a sire: Equipoise II by Equipoise.

  21. 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.

  22. into, at, or to: Come by my office this afternoon.

  1. near; in the immediate vicinity; at hand: The school is close by.

  2. to and beyond a point near something; past: The car drove by.

  1. aside; away: Put your work by for the moment. Over the years, she laid by enough money to retire.

  2. over; past: in times gone by.

  3. 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.

adjectiveAlso bye .
  1. situated to one side: They came down a by passage.

  2. secondary, incidental: It was only a by comment.

noun,plural byes.

Idioms about by

  1. by and by, in a short time; before long; presently: The clouds will disappear by and by.

  2. by and large, in general; on the whole: By and large, there is much to be said for the new system.

  1. by the by. bye1 (def. 6).

Origin of by

First recorded before 900; Middle English bi, be, by, Old English bī, big, be; cognate with Dutch bij, Old High German bī, German bei, Gothic bi; see be-

synonym study For by

11. By, through, with indicate agency or means of getting something done or accomplished. By is regularly used to denote the agent (person or force) in passive constructions: It is done by many; destroyed by fire. It also indicates means: Send it by airmail. With denotes the instrument (usually consciously) employed by an agent: He cut it with the scissors. Through designates particularly immediate agency or instrumentality or reason or motive: through outside aid; to yield through fear; wounded through carelessness.

Words Nearby by

Other definitions for by- (2 of 2)


  1. a combining form of by: by-product; bystander; byway. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use by in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for by (1 of 3)


/ (baɪ) /

  1. used to indicate the agent after a passive verb: seeds eaten by the birds

  2. used to indicate the person responsible for a creative work: this song is by Schubert

  1. via; through: enter by the back door

  2. followed by a gerund to indicate a means used: he frightened her by hiding behind the door

  3. beside; next to; near: a tree by the house

  4. passing the position of; past: he drove by the old cottage

  5. not later than; before: return the books by Tuesday

  6. used to indicate extent, after a comparative: it is hotter by five degrees than it was yesterday

  7. (esp in oaths) invoking the name of: I swear by all the gods

  8. multiplied by: four by three equals twelve

  9. (in habitual sentences) during the passing of (esp in the phrases by day, by night)

  10. placed between measurements of the various dimensions of something: a plank fourteen inches by seven

  1. near: the house is close by

  2. away; aside: he put some money by each week for savings

  1. passing a point near something; past: he drove by

  2. Scot past; over and done with: that's a' by now

  3. Scot aside; behind one: you must put that by you

nounplural byes
  1. a variant spelling of bye 1

Origin of by

Old English bī; related to Gothic bi, Old High German , Sanskrit abhi to, towards

British Dictionary definitions for by (2 of 3)


the internet domain name for
  1. Belarus

British Dictionary definitions for by- (3 of 3)


  1. near: bystander

  2. secondary or incidental: by-effect; by-election; by-path; by-product

Origin of by-

from by

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