coming or occurring before something else; prior: the previous owner.
Informal. done, occurring, etc., before the proper time; premature: Aren't you a little previous with that request?


    previous to, before; prior to: Previous to moving here she lived in Chicago.

Origin of previous

1615–25; < Latin praevius going before, equivalent to prae- pre- + vi(a) way + -us adj. suffix
Related formspre·vi·ous·ly, adverbpre·vi·ous·ness, noun

Synonyms for previous

1. earlier, former, preceding, foregoing. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for previous

Contemporary Examples of previous

Historical Examples of previous

  • Some species germinate quicker than others, and the operator must determine by previous trial what these differences are.

    The Nursery Book

    Liberty Hyde Bailey

  • My uncle had often during the previous twenty years, crossed the mountains, on trapping expeditions with an elder brother.

    Christopher Carson

    John S. C. Abbott

  • Here, on the outer edge of the road, was a gully which the wind of the day previous had partly filled with snow.

  • What words may we use to express a condensed view of a subject, whether derived from a previous publication or not?

    English Synonyms and Antonyms

    James Champlin Fernald

  • Of all the property spared them by previous oppressors, nothing was left to sustain the miserable survivors.

British Dictionary definitions for previous



(prenominal) existing or coming before something else in time or position; prior
(postpositive) informal taking place or done too soon; premature
previous to before; prior to
Derived Formspreviously, adverbpreviousness, noun

Word Origin for previous

C17: from Latin praevius leading the way, from prae before + via way
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 previous

1620s, from Latin praevius "going before," from prae "before" (see pre-) + via "road" (see via). Related: Previously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper