Definitions

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

  • adv. In the past; at a former time; formerly.
  • adj. Former: our erstwhile companions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. Formerly; in the past.
  • adj. Former, previous.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. Till then or now; heretofore; formerly.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • At one time; formerly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. belonging to some prior time
  • adv. at a previous time

Etymologies

erst +‎ while (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Quickly she called her erstwhile boyfriend Danny and warned him that the guy he found suspicious was now at another casino.

    THE CROSSOVER OF THE WEEK!

  • I called my erstwhile visitor and told him I was going after them.

    Will

  • Definition of 'erstwhile' - I thought it meant strong and steadfast, instead it means former.

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  • The scent of her hair was like a caress, but it did not recall the erstwhile pleasant memories that it should, for he frowned unobserved while he patted her shoulder soothingly.

    THE PROPER “GIRLIE”

  • Perhaps recalling erstwhile love Kitty Floyd, who broke off their engagement, he made notes on breaches of promise to marry.

    Law student James Madison rediscovered through lost notes

  • Considering that most of that who form the core of COPE lost elections into leadership positions of the ANC last year alongside Thabo Mbeki, ANC Chairman known for sometime now as President in the waiting Jacob Zuma labels his erstwhile comrades as sore losers and political opportunists.

    Democracy Goes on Trial in South Africa

  • Do you really want to call the erstwhile Toby Keith fan that now believes the war cannot be won a wimp?

    These Colors Don’t Run… - Swampland - TIME.com

  • A bitter complaint to the Directory referred to his erstwhile commander in chief as “ce petit bougre.”

    THE CAMPAIGNS OF NAPOLEON

  • She recalled the erstwhile mutual hatred and mistrust of Murray and Darnley, and saw how it might serve her in this emergency.

    The Historical Nights' Entertainment First Series

  • There's another question for the season: What should Brown call the erstwhile Artest, who changed his name in September?

    SI.com

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Comments

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  • I've only seen this word used rhetorically to mean "previously mentioned."

    June 20, 2008