before long

before long

< /ˈlɔŋ gɪst, ˈlɒŋ-/.

  1. having considerable linear extent in space: a long distance; a long handle.
  2. having considerable duration in time: a long conversation; a long while.
  3. extending, lasting, or totaling a number of specified units: eight miles long; eight hours long.
  4. containing many items or units: a long list.
  5. requiring a considerable time to relate, read, etc.: a long story.
  6. extending beyond normal or moderate limits: a long, boring speech.
  7. experienced as passing slowly, because of the difficulty, tedium, or unpleasantness involved: long years of study.
  8. reaching well into the past: a long memory.
  9. the longer of two or the longest of several: the long way home; a brick with the long side exposed.
  10. taking a long time; slow: He’s certainly long getting here.
  11. forward-looking or considering all aspects; broad: to take a long view of life.
  12. intense, thorough, or critical; seriously appraising: a long look at one’s past mistakes.
  13. having an ample supply or endowment of something (often followed by on): to be long on advice; to be long on brains.
  14. having a considerable time to run, as a promissory note.
  15. Chiefly Law. distant or remote in time: a long date.
  16. extending relatively far: a man with a long reach.
  17. being higher or taller than usual: long casement windows.
  18. being against great odds; unlikely: a long chance.
  19. (of beverages) mixed or diluted with a large amount of soda, seltzer, etc.: highballs, collinses, and other long drinks.
  20. (of the head or skull) of more than ordinary length from front to back.
  21. Phonetics.
    1. lasting a relatively long time: “Feed” has a longer sound than “feet” or “fit.”
    2. belonging to a class of sounds considered as usually longer in duration than another class, as the vowel of bought as compared to that of but, and in many languages serving as a distinctive feature of phonemes, as the ah in German Bahn in contrast with the a in Bann, or the tt in Italian fatto in contrast with the t in fato (opposed to short).
    3. having the sound of the English vowels in mate, meet, mite, mote, moot, and mute, historically descended from vowels that were long in duration.
  22. Prosody. (of a syllable in quantitative verse) lasting a longer time than a short syllable.
  23. Finance. holding or accumulating stocks, futures, commodities, etc., with the expectation of a rise in prices: a long position in chemicals.
  24. Gambling.
    1. marked by a large difference in the numbers of the given betting ratio or in the amounts wagered: long odds.
    2. of or relating to the larger amount bet.
  25. Ceramics. (of clay) very plastic; fat.


  1. a comparatively long time: They haven’t been gone for long. Will it take long?
  2. something that is long: The signal was two longs and a short.
  3. a size of garment for men who are taller than average.
  4. a garment, as a suit or overcoat, in this size: The shorts and the longs are hung separately.
  5. Finance. a person who accumulates or holds stocks or commodities with the expectation of a rise in prices.
  6. Music. longa.


  1. for or through a great extent of space or, especially, time: a reform long advocated.
  2. for or throughout a specified extent, especially of time: How long did he stay?
  3. (used elliptically in referring to the length of an absence, delay, etc.): Will she be long?
  4. throughout a specified period of time (usually used to emphasize a preceding noun): It’s been muggy all summer long.
  5. at a point of time far distant from the time indicated: long before.

  1. as long as,
    1. provided that: As long as you can come by six, I’ll be here.
    2. seeing that; since: As long as you’re going to the grocery anyway, buy me a pint of ice cream.
    3. Also so long as.during the time that; through the period that: As long as we were neighbors, they never invited us inside their house.
  2. before long, soon: We should have news of her whereabouts before long.
  3. the long and the short of, the point or gist of; substance of: The long and the short of it is that they will be forced to sell all their holdings.Also the long and short of.


  1. Crawford Williamson. 1815–78, US surgeon. He was the first to use ether as an anaesthetic


  1. having relatively great extent in space on a horizontal plane
  2. having relatively great duration in time
    1. (postpositive)of a specified number of units in extent or durationthree hours long
    2. (in combination)a two-foot-long line
  3. having or consisting of a relatively large number of items or partsa long list
  4. having greater than the average or expected rangea long memory
  5. being the longer or longest of alternativesthe long way to the bank
  6. having more than the average or usual quantity, extent, or durationa long match
  7. seeming to occupy a greater time than is really soshe spent a long afternoon waiting in the departure lounge
  8. intense or thorough (esp in the phrase a long look)
  9. (of drinks) containing a large quantity of nonalcoholic beverage
  10. (of a garment) reaching to the wearer’s ankles
  11. informal (foll by on) plentifully supplied or endowed (with)long on good ideas
  12. phonetics (of a speech sound, esp a vowel)
    1. of relatively considerable duration
    2. classified as long, as distinguished from the quality of other vowels
    3. (in popular usage) denoting the qualities of the five English vowels in such words as mate, mete, mite, moat, moot, and mute
  13. from end to end; lengthwise
  14. unlikely to win, happen, succeed, etca long chance
  15. prosody
    1. denoting a vowel of relatively great duration or (esp in classical verse) followed by more than one consonant
    2. denoting a syllable containing such a vowel
    3. (in verse that is not quantitative) carrying the emphasis or ictus
  16. finance having or characterized by large holdings of securities or commodities in anticipation of rising pricesa long position
  17. cricket (of a fielding position) near the boundarylong leg
  18. informal (of people) tall and slender
  19. in the long run See run (def. 82)
  20. long in the tooth informal old or ageing


  1. for a certain time or periodhow long will it last?
  2. for or during an extensive period of timelong into the next year
  3. at a distant time; quite a bit of timelong before I met you; long ago
  4. finance into a position with more security or commodity holdings than are required by sale contracts and therefore dependent on rising prices for profitto go long
  5. as long as or so long as
    1. for or during just the length of time that
    2. inasmuch as; since
    3. provided that; if
  6. no longer not any more; formerly but not now


  1. a long time (esp in the phrase for long)
  2. a relatively long thing, such as a signal in Morse code
  3. a clothing size for tall people, esp in trousers
  4. phonetics a long vowel or syllable
  5. finance a person with large holdings of a security or commodity in expectation of a rise in its price; bull
  6. music a note common in medieval music but now obsolete, having the time value of two breves
  7. before long soon
  8. the long and the short of it the essential points or facts


  1. (intr; foll by for or an infinitive) to have a strong desire


  1. (intr) archaic to belong, appertain, or be appropriate

abbreviation for

  1. longitude

“that extends considerably from end to end,” Old English lang “long,” from Proto-Germanic *langgaz (cf. Old Frisian and Old Saxon lang, Old High German and German lang, Old Norse langr, Middle Dutch lanc, Dutch lang, Gothic laggs “long”).

The Germanic words are perhaps from PIE *dlonghos- (cf. Latin longus, Old Persian darga-, Persian dirang, Sanskrit dirghah, Greek dolikhos “long,” Greek endelekhes “perpetual,” Latin indulgere “to indulge”), from root *del- “long.”

The adverb is from Old English lange, longe, from the adjective. No longer “not as formerly” is from c.1300; to be not long for this world “soon to die” is from 1714.

The word illustrates the Old English tendency for short “a” to become short “o” before -n- (also retained in bond/band and West Midlands dialectal lond from land and hond from hand).

Long vowels (c.1000) originally were pronounced for an extended time. Sporting long ball is from 1744, originally in cricket. Long jump as a sporting event is attested from 1864. A ship’s long-boat so called from 1510s. Long knives, name Native Americans gave to white settlers (originally in Virginia/Kentucky) is from 1774. Long in the tooth (1841 of persons) is from horses showing age by recession of gums. Long time no see, imitative of American Indian speech, is first recorded 1900. To be long on something, “have a lot” of it, is from 1900, American English slang.


Old English langian “to yearn after, grieve for,” literally “to grow long, lengthen,” from Proto-Germanic *langojanan (see long (adj.)). Cognate with Old Norse langa, Old Saxon langon, Middle Dutch langhen, Old High German langen “to long,” German verlangen “to desire.” Related: Longed; longing.

  1. American surgeon and pioneer anesthetist who was among the first (1842) to use ether as an anesthetic.

Soon, in the near future, as in The baby will be teething before long. This idiom was first recorded in 1865.

In addition to the idioms beginning with long

  • long ago
  • long and short of it, the
  • long arm of the law, the
  • long face
  • long haul
  • long in the tooth
  • long shot, a
  • long suit
  • long time no see

also see:

  • as long as
  • at (long) last
  • before long
  • come a long way
  • (long) drawn out
  • go a long way toward
  • happy as the day is long
  • in the long run
  • make a long story short
  • so long

Also see underlonger.

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