AskDefine | Define early

Dictionary Definition

early adj
1 at or near the beginning of a period of time or course of events or before the usual or expected time; "early morning"; "an early warning"; "early diagnosis"; "an early death"; "took early retirement"; "an early spring"; "early varieties of peas and tomatoes mature before most standard varieties" [ant: middle, late]
2 being or occurring at an early stage of development; "in an early stage"; "early forms of life"; "early man"; "an early computer" [ant: late]
3 of the distant past; "the early inhabitants of Europe"; "former generations"; "in other times" [syn: early(a), former(a), other(a)]
4 very young; "at an early age"
5 of an early stage in the development of a language or literature; "the Early Hebrew alphabetical script is that used mainly from the 11th to the 6th centuries B.C."; "Early Modern English is represented in documents printed from 1476 to 1700" [ant: middle, late]
6 expected in the near future; "look for an early end to the negotiations" adv
1 during an early stage; "early on in her career" [syn: early on]
2 before the usual time or the time expected; "she graduated early"; "the house was completed ahead of time" [syn: ahead of time, too soon] [ant: late]
3 in good time; "he awoke betimes that morning" [syn: betimes] [also: earliest, earlier]

User Contributed Dictionary



From erli, ǣrlīce, from ǣr (before) + the adverbial suffix -līce.


  • (UK) /ˈɜːli/
  • (US) /ˈɝli/
  • Rhymes with: -ɜː(r)li
  • Hyphenation: ear·ly


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Near the start or beginning.
    ''The play "Two Gentlemen of Verona" is one of Shakespeare's early works.



Derived terms


at a time in advance of the usual
arriving at a time before expected
  • Dutch: vroeg
  • Finnish: aikainen, ennenaikainen
  • French: en avance
  • German: früh, verfrüht
  • Irish: luath
  • Italian: precoce
  • Korean: 이르다 (ireuda), 빠르다 (ppareuda)
  • Russian: ранний
  • Spanish: prematuro, temprano
near the start or beginning


  1. At a time before expected; sooner than usual.
    ''We finished the project an hour sooner than scheduled, so we left early.



Derived terms


at a time before expected

Extensive Definition

Early may refer to:
Popular culture:
Other uses:
early in German: Early
early in Dutch: Early
early in Polish: Early
early in Volapük: Early

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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