a comparative of late:Her later years were not happy.


a comparative of late: The meeting ran later than we expected.
afterward, subsequently, or at a time in the future (sometimes followed by on): She later said she was sorry. I'll see you later. Let's decide about this later on.



adjective, lat·er or lat·ter, lat·est or last.

occurring, coming, or being after the usual or proper time: late frosts; a late spring.
continued until after the usual time or hour; protracted: a late business meeting.
near or at the end of day or well into the night: a late hour.
belonging to the time just before the present moment; most recent: a late news bulletin.
immediately preceding the present one; former: the late attorney general.
recently deceased: the late Mr. Phipps.
occurring at an advanced stage in life: a late marriage.
belonging to an advanced period or stage in the history or development of something: the late phase of feudalism.

adverb, lat·er, lat·est.

after the usual or proper time, or after delay: to arrive late.
until after the usual time or hour; until an advanced hour, especially of the night: to work late.
at or to an advanced time, period, or stage: The flowers keep their blossoms late in warm climates.
recently but no longer: a man late of Chicago, now living in Philadelphia.

Origin of late

before 900; Middle English; Old English læt slow, late; cognate with German lass slothful, Old Norse latr, Gothic lats slow, lazy, Latin lassus tired
Related formslate·ness, nouno·ver·late, adjectiveo·ver·late·ness, noun
Can be confusedformer later latter

Synonyms for late Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for later

Contemporary Examples of later

Historical Examples of later

  • Later he involved himself in explanations that were both obscure and conflicting.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Perhaps my father might have put that in a bottle also at a later date.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • "They needn't wait another day for me," Percival told him later.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • But if I join to you, I'll have to meet him sooner or later.

  • "I'll see you later," said Grace, as they paused for a moment in front of Vinton's.

British Dictionary definitions for later


adjective, adverb

the comparative of late


afterwards; subsequently
see you later an expression of farewell
sooner or later eventually; inevitably



occurring or arriving after the correct or expected timethe train was late
(prenominal) occurring, scheduled for, or being at a relatively advanced timea late marriage
(prenominal) towards or near the endthe late evening
at an advanced time in the evening or at nightit was late
(prenominal) occurring or being just previous to the present timehis late remarks on industry
(prenominal) having died, esp recentlymy late grandfather
(prenominal) just preceding the present or existing person or thing; formerthe late manager of this firm
of late recently; lately


after the correct or expected timehe arrived late
at a relatively advanced ageshe married late
recently; latelyas late as yesterday he was selling books
late hours rising and going to bed later than is usual
late in the day
  1. at a late or advanced stage
  2. too late
Derived Formslateness, noun

Word Origin for late

Old English læt; related to Old Norse latr, Gothic lats


Since late can mean deceased, many people think it is better to avoid using this word to refer to the person who held a post or position before its present holder: the previous (not the late) editor of The Times
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 later

comparative of late. Meaning "farewell" is from 1954, U.S. slang, short for see you later.



Old English læt "occurring after the customary or expected time," originally "slow, sluggish," from Proto-Germanic *lata- (cf. Old Norse latr "sluggish, lazy," Middle Dutch, Old Saxon lat, German laß "idle, weary," Gothic lats "weary, sluggish, lazy," latjan "to hinder"), from PIE *led- "slow, weary" (cf. Latin lassus "faint, weary, languid, exhausted," Greek ledein "to be weary"), from root *le- "to let go, slacken" (see let (v.)).

The sense of "deceased" (as in the late Mrs. Smith) is from late 15c., from an adverbial sense of "recently." Of women's menstrual periods, attested colloquially from 1962. Related: Lateness. As an adverb, from Old English late.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with later


In addition to the idiom beginning with later

  • later on

also see:

  • sooner or later

Also see underlate.


In addition to the idioms beginning with late

  • late in life
  • late in the day

also see:

  • at the latest
  • better late than never
  • Johnny-come-lately
  • keep late hours
  • of late
  • the latest
  • too little, too late

Also see underlater.

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