Also found in: Thesaurus, Acronyms, Idioms.
Related to before: after


1. Earlier in time: They called me the day before.
2. In front; ahead.
1. Previous to in time; earlier than.
2. In front of.
3. In store for; awaiting: The young man's whole life lies before him.
4. Into or in the presence of: She asked that the visitor be brought before her.
5. Under the consideration or jurisdiction of: The case is now before the court.
6. In a position superior to: The prince is before his brother in the line of succession.
1. In advance of the time when: See me before you leave.
2. Rather than; sooner than: I will die before I will betray my country.

[Middle English bifore, from Old English beforan; see per in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


conj (subordinating)
1. earlier than the time when
2. rather than: he'll resign before he agrees to it.
3. preceding in space or time; in front of; ahead of: standing before the altar.
4. when confronted by: to withdraw before one's enemies.
5. in the presence of: to be brought before a judge.
6. in preference to: to put friendship before money.
at an earlier time; previously; beforehand; in front
[Old English beforan; related to Old Frisian befara, Old High German bifora]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(bɪˈfɔr, -ˈfoʊr)

1. previous to; earlier than: Call me before noon.
2. in front or ahead of: She stood before the window.
3. awaiting: The golden age is before us.
4. in preference to; rather than: They would die before surrendering.
5. in precedence of, as in order or rank: We put freedom before wealth.
6. in the presence or sight of: to appear before an audience.
7. under the consideration or jurisdiction of: summoned before a magistrate.
8. in the face of: Before such wild accusations, he was speechless.
9. in the regard of: a crime before God and humanity.
10. in time preceding; previously: We've met before.
11. earlier or sooner.
12. in front; in advance; ahead.
13. previous to the time when: See me before you go.
14. sooner than; rather than: I will die before I submit.
[before 1000; Middle English beforen, Old English beforan=be by 1 + foran before (derivative of fore fore 1]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. talking about time

If something happens before a time or event, it happens earlier than that time or event.

We arrived just before two o'clock.
Before the First World War, farmers used horses instead of tractors.

You also use before when you are talking about the past and you want to refer to an earlier period of time. For example, if you are describing events that took place in 2010, you refer to 2009 as 'the year before'.

They had met in Bonn the weekend before.
They had forgotten the argument of the night before.

You use before last to refer to a period of time that came before the last one of its kind. For example, if today is Wednesday 18th September, you refer to Friday 13th September as 'last Friday', and Friday 6th September as 'the Friday before last'.

We met them on a camping holiday the year before last.
I have not slept since the night before last.
2. talking about position

Before is sometimes used to mean in front of'. This is a formal or old-fashioned use. It is more common to use in front of with the same meaning.

He stood before the door leading to the cellar.
She stood in front of a mirror, combing her hair.

You use before or in front of when you are talking about the order in which things appear in speech or writing. For example, if you are describing the spelling of the word 'friend', you can say that the letter 'i' comes before or in front of the letter 'e'.

If you are giving someone directions, and you say that one place is a certain distance before another place, you mean that they will come to the first place first. Don't use 'in front of' with this meaning.

The turning is about two kilometres before the roundabout.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adv.1.before - earlier in timebefore - earlier in time; previously; "I had known her before"; "as I said before"; "he called me the day before but your call had come even earlier"; "her parents had died four years earlier"; "I mentioned that problem earlier"
2.before - at or in the frontbefore - at or in the front; "I see the lights of a town ahead"; "the road ahead is foggy"; "staring straight ahead"; "we couldn't see over the heads of the people in front"; "with the cross of Jesus marching on before"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. earlier than, ahead of, prior to, in advance of, B4 (S.M.S.) Annie was born a few weeks before Christmas.
earlier than after, following, succeeding
2. ahead of, in front of, in advance of, to the fore of They stopped before a large white villa.
3. in front of, in the presence of, before the eyes of The Government will appear before the committee.
4. ahead of, in front of, in advance of I saw before me an idyllic life.
5. in preference to, over, rather than, above, instead of, sooner than, over and above Her husband, her children, and the Church come before her needs.
1. previously, earlier, sooner, in advance, formerly, B4 (S.M.S.) The war had ended only a month or so before.
previously after, later, afterwards, subsequently, thereafter
2. in the past, earlier, once, previously, formerly, at one time, hitherto, beforehand, B4 (S.M.S.), a while ago, heretofore, in days or years gone by I've been here before.
Related words
prefixes ante-, fore-, pre-
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


1. At a time in the past:
2. Up to this time:
3. Until then:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
قَبْلَقَبْلَ ، سابِق لِقَبْلَ أنقَبْلَ أَنْمِن قَبْل
předpředtímdřív neždřívedříve než
antesantes quedelante (de)delante deantes (de que)
ennenaiemminaikaisemminedessäennen kuin
á undaná undan, fremur enáîuráîur enfyrir, áîur
(…보다) 앞에...하기 전에
before longdrīzdrīzāk/ labāk ... nekāiekamsiepriekš
daha önce-den ise-den önce/evvel-den/dan önceevvel
trướctrước đây


When before is an element in a phrasal verb, eg come before, go before, look up the verb.
1. (in time, order, rank) → antes de
before Christantes de Cristo
the week before lasthace dos semanas
before long (in future) → antes de poco; (in past) → poco después
before going, would youantes de marcharte, quieres ...
income before taxrenta f bruta or antes de impuestos
profits before taxbeneficios mpl preimpositivos
2. (in place) → delante de; (= in the presence of) → ante, delante de, en presencia de
they were married before a judgese casaron en presencia de un juez
3. (= facing) the question before us (in meeting) → el asunto que tenemos que discutir
the problem before us isel problema que se nos plantea es ...
the task before usla tarea que tenemos por delante
we still have two hours before ustenemos todavía dos horas por delante
a new life lay before himuna vida nueva se abría ante él
4. (= rather than) I should choose this one before thatyo escogería éste antes que aquél
death before dishonour!¡antes la muerte que el deshonor!
1. (time) → antes
a moment beforeun momento antes
the day beforeel día anterior
before, it used to be differentantes, todo era distinto
on this occasion and the one beforeen esta ocasión y la anterior
2. (place, order) → delante, adelante
before and behindpor delante y por detrás
that chapter and the one beforeese capítulo y el anterior
C. CONJ (time) → antes de que; (rather than) → antes que


 When before is an adverb, you can usually translate it using antes:
Why didn't you say so before? ¿Por qué no lo has dicho antes? I had spoken to her before Había hablado con ella antes
 But the before in never before and ever before is often not translated:
I've never been to Spain before Nunca he estado en España I had never been to a police station before Nunca había estado (antes) en una comisaría It's not true that the working class is earning more money than ever before No es cierto que la clase obrera gane más dinero que nunca
 The day/night/week before should usually be translated using el día/la noche/la semana anterior:
The night before, he had gone to a rock concert La noche anterior había ido a un concierto de rock
 In more formal contexts, where before could be substituted by previously, anteriormente is another option:
As I said before... Como he dicho antes or anteriormente...
 When before is equivalent to already, translate using ya (antes) or, in questions about whether someone has done what they are doing now before, using ¿es la primera vez que...?:
"How about watching this film?" - "Actually, I've seen it before" -¿Vemos esa película? -"Es que ya la he visto" I had been to Glasgow a couple of times before Ya había estado (antes) en Glasgow un par de veces Have you been to Spain before? ¿Has estado ya en España? or ¿Es la primera vez que vienes a España?
 Translate ((PERIOD OF TIME)) + before using hacía + ((PERIOD OF TIME)):
They had married nearly 40 years before Se habían casado hacía casi 40 años
! Hacía is invariable in this sense.

 When before is a preposition, you can usually translate it using antes de:
Please ring before seven Por favor, llama antes de las siete Shall we go for a walk before dinner? ¿Nos vamos a dar un paseo antes de cenar?
 But use antes que with names of people and personal pronouns when they stand in for a verb:
If you get there before me or before I do, wait for me in the bar Si llegas antes que yo, espérame en el bar
 Translate before + ((-ING)) using antes de + ((INFINITIVE)):
He said goodbye to the children before leaving Se despidió de los niños antes de irse
 When before is a conjunction, you can usually translate it using antes de que + ((SUBJUNCTIVE)):
I'll ask Peter about it before he goes away on holiday Se lo preguntaré a Peter antes de que se vaya de vacaciones We reached home before the storm broke Llegamos a casa antes de que empezara la tormenta
 If the subject of both clauses is the same, antes de + ((INFINITIVE)) is usually used rather than antes de que:
Give me a ring before you leave the office Llámame antes de salir de la oficina
NOTE This construction is also sometimes used in colloquial Spanish when the subjects are different:
Before you arrived she was very depressed Antes de llegar tú, estaba muy deprimida
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


(in time) (= prior to) → avant
before Tuesday → avant mardi
(in time) (= ahead of) → devant
The weeks stretched out before him → Les semaines s'étendaient devant lui.
(in space)devant
to lie before sb [task, duty] → attendre qn; [choice] → se présenter à qn; [scene] → s'étendre devant qn
conj (gen)avant que + subj; (when subject of both clauses is the same)avant de
I'll phone before I leave → J'appellerai avant de partir.
before she goes → avant qu'elle parte, avant qu'elle ne parte
before doing sth → avant de faire qch
Before opening the packet, read the instructions → Avant d'ouvrir le paquet, lisez le mode d'emploi.
before going → avant de partir
adv (= earlier) → avant
a week before → une semaine auparavant
the week before → la semaine précédente, la semaine d'avant
the day before → la veille
the night before → la veille au soir
(= already) → déjà
I've seen it before → Je l'ai déjà vu.
I've seen this film before → J'ai déjà vu ce film.
Have you been to Scotland before? → Vous êtes déjà allé en Écosse?
(= previously)
I've never seen it before → C'est la première fois que je le vois.
I've never been here before → C'est la première fois que je viens ici.
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= earlier than)vor (+dat); the year before last/thisvorletztes/letztes Jahr, das vorletzte/letzte Jahr; the day before yesterdayvorgestern; the day/time before thatder Tag/die Zeit davor; before Christ (abbr BC) → vor Christi Geburt (abbr v. Chr.); I got/was here before youich war vor dir da; that was before my timedas war vor meiner Zeit; he died before his timeer ist früh gestorben; to be before somebody/somethingvor jdm/etw liegen; before thenvorher; before nowfrüher, eher, vorher; you should have done it before nowdas hättest du schon (eher) gemacht haben sollen; before longbald; before everything elsezuallererst
(in order, rank) → vor (+dat); to come before somebody/somethingvor jdm/etw kommen; I believe in honour (Brit) or honor (US) before everythingdie Ehre geht mir über alles, für mich ist die Ehre das Wichtigste; ladies before gentlemenDamen haben den Vortritt
(in position) → vor (+dat); (with movement) → vor (+acc); before my (very) eyesvor meinen Augen; the task before us (= with which we are dealing)die uns vorliegende Aufgabe; (= with which we are confronted)die Aufgabe, vor der wir stehen; (= which lies ahead of us)die uns bevorstehende Aufgabe; to sail before the wind (Naut) → vor dem Wind segeln
(= in the presence of)vor (+dat); he said it before us aller sagte das vor uns allen; before God/a lawyervor Gott/einem Anwalt; to appear before a court/judgevor Gericht/einem Richter erscheinen
(= rather than) death before surrendereher or lieber tot als sich ergeben; he would die before betraying his countryer würde eher sterben als sein Land verraten
(in time, = before that) → davor; (= at an earlier time, before now)vorher; have you been to Scotland before?waren Sie schon einmal in Schottland?; I have seen/read etc this beforeich habe das schon einmal gesehen/gelesen etc; never beforenoch nie; (on) the evening/day befoream Abend/Tag davor or zuvor or vorher; (in) the month/year beforeim Monat/Jahr davor; two hours beforezwei Stunden vorher; two days beforezwei Tage davor or zuvor; to continue as before (person)(so) wie vorher weitermachen; things continued as beforealles war wie gehabt; life went on as beforedas Leben ging seinen gewohnten Gang
(= ahead) to march on beforevorausmarschieren
(indicating order) → davor; that chapter and the one beforedieses Kapitel und das davor
(in time) → bevor; before doing somethingbevor man etw tut; you can’t go before this is donedu kannst erst gehen, wenn das gemacht ist; it will be six weeks before the boat comes againdas Boot wird erst in sechs Wochen wiederkommen; it will be a long time before he comes backes wird lange dauern, bis er zurückkommt
(= rather than) he will die before he surrenderseher will er sterben als sich geschlagen geben
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


1. prep
a. (in time) → prima di
before 7 o'clock → prima delle 7
the day before last or yesterday → due giorni fa, l'altro ieri, ieri l'altro
before Christ → avanti Cristo
before long → fra poco, fra non molto
b. (in place, rank, in the presence of) → davanti a
a new life lay before him → una nuova vita si apriva davanti a lui
to appear before a judge → comparire davanti or dinanzi a un giudice
the question before us → la questione di cui ci dobbiamo occupare
before my very eyes → proprio sotto i miei occhi
ladies before gentlemen → prima le signore, la precedenza alle signore
to put friendship before money → anteporre l'amicizia all'interesse
2. advprima
the day before → il giorno prima or precedente
I have read it before → l'ho già letto
I've never seen it before → è la prima volta che lo vedo
the week before → la settimana prima
I knew long before that ... → sapevo da molto tempo che...
3. conj (time) → prima di + infin, prima che + sub; (rather than) → piuttosto che
before doing it you ..., before you do it, you ... → prima di farlo, tu..., prima che tu lo faccia, tu...
he will die before he betrays his friends → morirebbe piuttosto che tradire gli amici
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(biˈfoː) preposition
1. earlier than. before the war; He'll come before very long.
2. in front of. She was before me in the queue.
3. rather than. Honour before wealth.
earlier. I've seen you before.
earlier than the time when. Before I go, I must phone my parents.
beˈforehand (-hand) adverb
before the time when something else is done. If you're coming, let me know beforehand.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


أَمَام, قَبْلَ, قَبْلَ أَنْ dříve než, před, předtím før bevor, davor, vor πριν από, προηγουμένως, προτού antes, antes de, antes de que aiemmin, ennen, ennen kuin avant, avant que prije, ranije prima ・・・する前に, ・・・の前に, 以前に ...하기 전에, (…보다) 앞에, 앞에 voor, voordat, vroeger før, heller enn przed, wcześniej, zanim antes, antes que до того как, перед, прежде före, innan ก่อน, ก่อนที่ önce, önceden, önünde trước 以前, 在...之前
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


adv. delante; enfrente de; antes de; anterior a; conj. antes que; antes de que.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
Collins Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


adv antes; Have you ever had these pains before?..¿Ha tenido estos dolores antes?; conj antes de que; before you take this medicine..antes de que tome esta medicina; prep antes de; — meals antes de comer
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.