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adj. ear·li·er, ear·li·est
1. Of or occurring near the beginning of a given series, period of time, or course of events: in the early morning; scored two runs in the early innings.
a. Of or belonging to a previous or remote period of time: the early inhabitants of the British Isles.
b. Of or belonging to an initial stage of development: an early form of life; an early computer.
3. Occurring, developing, or appearing before the expected or usual time: an early spring; an early retirement.
4. Maturing or developing relatively soon: an early variety of tomato.
5. Occurring in the near future: hoped for an early end to the negotiations.
adv. ear·lier, ear·liestIdiom:
a. Near the beginning of a given series, period of time, or course of events: departed early in the day; scored important victories early in the campaign.
b. At or near the beginning of the morning: She never used to get up so early.
2. At or during a remote or initial period: decided very early to go into medicine.
3. Before the expected or usual time: arrived at the meeting a few minutes early.
4. Soon in relation to others of its kind: a rose that was cultivated to bloom early.
At an early stage or point: Early on in the movie, the main character loses his job.
[Middle English erli, from Old English ǣrlīce : ǣr, before; see ayer- in Indo-European roots + -līce, adv. suff.; see -ly2.]