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

  • prep. Close to; next to: the window by the door.
  • prep. With the use or help of; through: We came by the back road.
  • prep. Up to and beyond; past: We drove by the house.
  • prep. At or to: stopped by the bakery; came by the house.
  • prep. In the period of; during: sleeping by day.
  • prep. Not later than: by 5:30 P.M.
  • prep. In the amount of: letters by the thousands.
  • prep. To the extent of: shorter by two inches.
  • prep. According to: played by the rules.
  • prep. With respect to: siblings by blood.
  • prep. In the name of: swore by the Bible to tell the truth.
  • prep. Through the agency or action of: was killed by a bullet.
  • prep. Used to indicate a succession of specified individuals, groups, or quantities: One by one they left. They were persuaded little by little.
  • prep. Used in multiplication and division: Multiply 4 by 6 to get 24.
  • prep. Used with measurements: a room 12 by 18 feet.
  • prep. Toward. Used to express direction with points of the compass: south by east.
  • adv. On hand; nearby: Stand by.
  • adv. Aside; away: We put it by for later.
  • adv. Up to, alongside, and past: The car raced by.
  • adv. At or to one's home or current location: Stop by later today.
  • adv. Into the past: as years go by.
  • idiom by oneself Without company; alone: went by herself.
  • idiom by oneself Without help: wrote the book by myself.
  • n. Variant of bye1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • prep. Near or next to.
  • prep. At some time before (the given time), or before the end of a given time interval.
  • prep. Indicates the actor in a clause with its verb in the passive voice Through the action or presence of.
  • prep. Indicates the creator of a work Existing through the authorship etc of.
  • prep. Indicates the cause of a condition or event Through the action of, caused by, responsibility for; by dint of.
  • prep. Indicates a means Involving/using the means of.
  • prep. Indicates a source of light (medium emanating from hot sources)
  • prep. Indicates a rule followed Using the rules or logic of.
  • prep. Indicates the amount of some progression With a change of.
  • prep. In the formulae X by X and by Xs, indicates a steady progression, one X after another.
  • prep. Indicates a referenced source According to.
  • prep. Indicates an oath With the authority of.
  • prep. Used to separate dimensions when describing the size of something.
  • adv. Along a path which runs by the speaker.
  • adv. In the vicinity, near.
  • adv. To or at a place, as a residence or place of business.
  • adv. Aside, away.
  • adj. Out of the way, subsidiary.
  • n. A pass
  • interj. Alternative spelling of bye.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Out of the common path; aside; -- used in composition, giving the meaning of something aside, secondary, or incidental, or collateral matter, a thing private or avoiding notice. It was formerly more freely used in composition than it is now
  • adv. Near; in the neighborhood; present.
  • adv. Passing near; going past; past; beyond.
  • adv. Aside.
  • prep. In the neighborhood of; near or next to; not far from; close to; along with.
  • prep. On; along; in traversing. Compare 5.
  • prep. Near to, while passing; hence, from one to the other side of; past.
  • prep. Used in specifying adjacent dimensions.
  • prep. Against.
  • prep. With, as means, way, process, etc.; through means of; with aid of; through; through the act or agency of; ; profit is made by commerce; to take by force.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Near; close to; beside; with; about: as, sit by me; the house stands by a river.
  • Near, or up to and beyond, with reference to motion; past: as, to move or go by a church.
  • Along (in direction or progress); in or through (the course of); over or alongside of: as, to approach a town by the highway.
  • On; upon; especially, through or on as a means of conveyance: as, he journeyed both by water and by rail.
  • Through. Through the action or operation of, as the immediate agent or the producing or instigating cause: as, the empire founded by Napoleon; a novel written by Cooper; the victories gained by Nelson; a picture painted by Rubens.
  • With the perception of, as the subject or recipient of the action or feeling: as, he died regretted by all who knew him; this was felt by them to be an intentional slight. Through the means or agency of, as the intermediate agent or instrument: as, the city was destroyed by fire.
  • Through the use of; with the aid of, as means: as, to take by force; by your leave.
  • In consequence of; by virtue of.
  • In adjuration: Before; in the presence of; with the witness of; with regard to things, in view of, in consideration of: followed by the name of the being or thing appealed to as sanction: as, I appeal to you by all that is sacred.
  • According to; by direction, authority, example, or evidence of: as, this appears by his own account; it is ten o'clock by my watch; these are good rules to live by.
  • In the measure or quantity of; in the terms of: as, to sell cloth by the yard, milk by the quart, eggs by the dozen, beef by the pound; to board by the week.
  • In comparison: To the extent of: noting mensuration or the measure or ratio of excess or inferiority: as, largerby a half; older by five years; to lessen by a third.
  • Multiplied into: noting the relation of one dimension to another (in square or cubic measure): as, five feet by four, that is, measuring five feet in one direction and four feet in the other.
  • During the course of; within the compass or period of: as, by day; by night.
  • At (a terminal point of time); not later than; as early as: as, by this time the sun had risen; he will be here by two o'clock.
  • At a time; each separately or singly: as, one by one; two by two; piece by piece.
  • With reference to; in relation to; about; concerning; with: formerly especially after say, speak, etc., now chiefly after do, act, deal, etc.
  • Besides; over and above; beyond.
  • Without aid; by individual action exclusively: as, I did it all by myself.
  • [The adverbial use is not found in AS., and is rare in ME.] Near; in the same place with; at hand: often (before the verb always) qualified by a more definite adverb; as, near by; close by; hard by.
  • Aside; off.
  • Of motion: Across in front or alongside and beyond: as, the carriage went by.
  • Of time: In the past; over.
  • At once; straightway; immediately; then.
  • At some time in the future; before long; presently.
  • An obsolete spelling of buy.
  • An obsolete variant of be.
  • An obsolete variant of bi-, be- (unaccented). See be-.
  • The modern form of bi-, be-, under the accent, as in byspell, byword, etc.
  • An obsolete variant of bi-, be-.
  • The adverb by used as a prefix.
  • n. A thing not directly aimed at; something not the immediate object of regard: as, by the by (that is, by the way, in passing).
  • n. The condition of being odd, as opposed to even; the state of having no competitor in a contest where several are engaged in pairs.
  • n. In cricket, a run made on a ball not struck by the batsman, but which the wicket-keeper has failed to stop.
  • n. In the game of hide-and-seek, the goal: as, to touch the by.
  • n. A town; habitation; dwelling: now extant only in place-names, especially in the north of England, as in Derby (Anglo-Saxon Deóra bȳ, literally ‘dwelling of deer’), Whitby, etc.
  • n. A ring; a bracelet.

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

  • adv. in reserve; not for immediate use
  • adv. so as to pass a given point


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

Middle English, from Old English bī, be; see ambhi in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English  ("being near").


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  • Chicago slang: at someone's home, place of work, or similar location. This use of 'by' parallels the French word chez but more likley derives from the German and also Yiddish bei. Examples: We're coming by you tonight. How's by you? I hear they're laying off people by you.

    July 16, 2009

  • The description says adverb, but isnt this a preposition?

    March 19, 2009