- Prior means having happened in the past.
An example of prior is a criminal conviction that happened ten years ago.
- The definition of a prior is the head of a home where monks live.
An example of a prior is the person in charge of a religious house such as a priory.
- preceding in time; earlier; previous; former
- preceding in order or importance; preferred: a prior choice
Origin of priorL, former, superior, comparative of Old Latin pri, before: see prime
- the head of a priory or other religious house
- in an abbey, the person in charge next below the abbot
Origin of priorME < OE & OFr, both < ML(Ec), a prior < L: see priorthe adjective
- Preceding in time or order: “[They] insist that foreign vessels seeking access obtain prior approval” ( Seymour M. Hersh )
- Preceding in importance or value: a prior consideration.
Origin of priorLatin; see prior2.
Usage Note: Though prior usually modifies a noun that comes after it, as in prior approval, it sometimes modifies a noun for a unit of time which precedes it, as in five years prior. These constructions are marginally acceptable when the combination serves as the object of a preposition, as in A gallon of gasoline was $4.29, up 10 cents from the week prior. In our 2014 survey, 51 percent of the Panelists accepted the sentence, with many commenting that they would prefer from the prior week or from the week before. The construction is even less acceptable when it acts as an adverbial modifier: only 29 percent of the Panel approved My cell phone was stolen. I had just bought it two days prior.
- A monastic officer in charge of a priory or ranking next below the abbot of an abbey.
- One of the ruling magistrates of the medieval Italian republic of Florence.
Origin of priorMiddle English priour from Old EnglishOld French prior both from Medieval Latin from Latin superior ; see per1 in Indo-European roots.
- pri′or·ate pri′or·ship′
(comparative more prior, superlative most pri)
- (colloquial) Previously.
- The doctor had known three months prior.
From Latin prior