[fawr-uh nd-aft, -ahft, fohr-]Nautical
See more synonyms for fore-and-aft on

Origin of fore-and-aft

First recorded in 1610–20


[fawr, fohr]
  1. situated at or toward the front, as compared with something else.
  2. first in place, time, order, rank, etc.; forward; earlier.
  3. Nautical.
    1. of or relating to a foremast.
    2. noting a sail, yard, boom, etc., or any rigging belonging to a fore lower mast or to some upper mast of a foremast.
    3. noting any stay running aft and upward to the head of a fore lower mast or to some specified upper mast of a foremast: fore topmast stay.
    4. situated at or toward the bow of a vessel; forward.
  1. Nautical. at or toward the bow.
  2. forward.
  3. Obsolete. before.
  1. the forepart of anything; front.
  2. the fore, Nautical. the foremast.
preposition, conjunction
  1. Also 'fore. Informal. before.
  1. fore and aft, Nautical. in, at, or to both ends of a ship.
  2. to the fore,
    1. into a conspicuous place or position; to or at the front.
    2. at hand; ready; available.
    3. still alive.

Origin of fore

by construal of fore- as an adj., hence nominalized; fore and aft perhaps as translation of Dutch or Low German; sense “before” (defs 6, 9) perhaps continuation of Middle English, Old English fore in this sense, or as aphetic form of afore
Can be confusedfor fore four Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for fore and aft

along, alongside, overall, endlong

British Dictionary definitions for fore and aft


  1. (usually in combination) located at, in, or towards the frontthe forelegs of a horse
  1. the front part
  2. something located at, in, or towards the front
  3. short for foremast
  4. fore and aft located at or directed towards both ends of a vessela fore-and-aft rig
  5. to the fore
    1. to or into the front or conspicuous position
    2. Scot and Irishalive or activeis your grandfather still to the fore?
  1. at or towards a ship's bow
  2. obsolete before
preposition, conjunction
  1. a less common word for before

Word Origin for fore

Old English; related to Old Saxon, Old High German fora, Gothic faura, Greek para, Sanskrit pura


  1. (in golf) a warning shout made by a player about to make a shot

Word Origin for fore

C19: probably short for before
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 fore and aft



Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of;" (adv.) "before, previously," common Germanic (cf. Old High German fora, Old Frisian fara, German vor, Gothic faiura, Old Norse fyrr "for"); from PIE *pr-, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per).

As a noun, from 1630s. The warning cry in golf is first recorded 1878, probably a contraction of before.



mid-15c., "forward;" late 15c., "former, earlier;" early 16c., "at the front;" all senses apparently from fore- compounds, which frequently were written as two words in Middle English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with fore and aft

fore and aft

Both front and back, everywhere, as in The children clung to the teacher fore and aft. This expression is nautical terminology for the bow, or front, and the stern, or back, of a vessel. Today it is also used more broadly. [First half of 1600s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with fore

  • fore and aft

also see:

  • to the fore
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.