early


early

< /ˈdʒu bəl/, 1816–94, Confederate general in the U.S. Civil War.

adjective -lier or -liest

  1. before the expected or usual time
  2. occurring in or characteristic of the first part of a period or sequence
  3. occurring in or characteristic of a period far back in time
  4. occurring in the near future
  5. at the earliest not before the time or date mentioned
  6. early days too soon to tell how things will turn out

adverb -lier

  1. before the expected or usual time
  2. near the first part of a period or sequenceI was talking to him earlier
adv.

Old English ærlic “early,” from ær “soon, ere” (see ere) + -lice, adverbial suffix (see -ly (2)). Cf. Old Norse arliga “early.” The early bird of the proverb is from 1670s. Related: Earlier; earliest.

In addition to the idioms beginning with early

  • early bird catches the worm
  • early on
  • early to bed, early to rise (makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise)

also see:

  • bright and early

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