Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adverb In the past; at a former time; formerly.
  • adjective Former.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • At one time; formerly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adverb Archaic Till then or now; heretofore; formerly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adverb Formerly; in the past.
  • adjective literary, law Former, previous.

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

  • adjective belonging to some prior time
  • adverb at a previous time

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

erst +‎ while

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.

    Popular Posts Across MetaFilter

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

    Popular Posts Across MetaFilter

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    THE CAMPAIGNS OF NAPOLEON

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

    THE CAMPAIGNS OF NAPOLEON

Comments

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

    June 20, 2008