- preceding in time or in order; earlier or former; previous: A prior agreement prevents me from accepting this.
- preceding in importance or privilege.
- Informal. a prior conviction.
- prior to, preceding; before: Prior to that time, buffalo had roamed the Great Plains in tremendous numbers.
Origin of prior1
- (prenominal) previous; preceding
- prior to before; until
- statistics a prior probability
- the superior of a house and community in certain religious orders
- the deputy head of a monastery or abbey, ranking immediately below the abbot
- (formerly) a chief magistrate in medieval Florence and other Italian republics
- Matthew. 1664–1721, English poet and diplomat, noted for his epigrammatic occasional verse
Word Origin and History for priorly
"earlier," 1714, from Latin prior "former, previous, first;" figuratively "superior, better;" as a noun "forefather; superior rank;" comparative of Old Latin pri "before," from PIE *prai-, *prei-, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per).
"superior officer of a religious house or order," late Old English, from Medieval Latin prior "superior officer," noun use of Latin adjective meaning "former, superior" (see prior (adj.)). As short for prior arrest, by 1990, American English.