Early definitions

ûr'lē
Before the expected or usual time.

Arrived at the meeting a few minutes early.

adverb
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The definition of early is near the beginning, or belonging to a previous time.

An example of early is the first act of a five act performance; an early act.

An example of early is prehistoric humans; early humans.

adjective
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Early is defined as before the expected time, or soon after the start.

An example of early is showing up to a dinner party fifteen minutes before it starts.

adverb
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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.

adjective
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Occurring, developing, or appearing before the expected or usual time.

An early spring; an early retirement.

adjective
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Maturing or developing relatively soon.

An early variety of tomato.

adjective
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Occurring in the near future.

Hoped for an early end to the negotiations.

adjective
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Of or belonging to a previous or remote period of time.

The early inhabitants of the British Isles.

adjective
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Of or belonging to an initial stage of development.

An early form of life; an early computer.

adjective
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At or during a remote or initial period.

Decided very early to go into medicine.

adverb
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Soon in relation to others of its kind.

A rose that was cultivated to bloom early.

adverb
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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.

adverb
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At or near the beginning of the morning.

She never used to get up so early.

adverb
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Near the beginning of a given period of time or of a series, as of events; soon after the start.
adverb
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Before the expected or customary time.
adverb
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In the far distant past; in ancient or remote times.
adverb
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In the near future; before much time has passed.
adverb
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1816-94; Confederate general in the Civil War.
proper name
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At a time in advance of the usual or expected event.

At eleven, we went for an early lunch; she began reading at an early age; his mother suffered an early death.

adjective
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Arriving a time before expected; sooner than on time.

You're early today! I don't usually see you before nine o'clock.

The early guests sipped their punch and avoided each other's eyes.

adjective
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Near the start or beginning.

The play "Two Gentlemen of Verona" is one of Shakespeare's early works.

Early results showed their winning 245 out of 300 seats in parliament. The main opponent locked up only 31 seats.

adjective
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Having begun to occur; in its early stages.

Early cancer.

adjective
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At a time before expected; sooner than usual.

We finished the project an hour sooner than scheduled, so we left early.

adverb
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Soon; in good time; seasonably.
adverb
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A shift (scheduled work period) that takes place early in the day.
noun
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Origin of early

From Middle English erly, erli, Old English ǣrlīce, from ǣr (“before, ere”) + adverbial suffix -līce. Cognate with Old Norse árla (> Danish and Norwegian årle, Swedish arla, Faroese árla)