from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • prep. Previous to; before.
  • conj. Rather than; before.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Obsolete form of ear..
  • prep. Before; sooner than.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • prep. Before; sooner than.
  • prep. Rather than.
  • transitive v. To plow. [Obs.] See ear, v. t.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Early; soon.
  • Before; formerly.
  • Before, in respect of time.
  • Before; sooner than.
  • An obsolete form of ear.
  • n. An obsolete form of ear.


Middle English er, from Old English ǣr; see ayer- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English ere, from Old English ǣr. (adverb, conjunction, & preposition), from Proto-Germanic *airiz comparative of Proto-Germanic *airi (“early”), from Proto-Indo-European *áyeri (“day, morning”) (compare Avestan 𐬀𐬫𐬀𐬭 (ayar, "day"), Gk. ἠέριος (ēérios, "at daybreak"), see also era). The adverb erstwhile retains the Old English superlative ǣrest ("earliest"). (Wiktionary)


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