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

  • adj. Preceding in time or order: "[They] insist that foreign vessels seeking access obtain prior approval” ( Seymour M. Hersh).
  • adj. Preceding in importance or value: a prior consideration.
  • n. A monastic officer in charge of a priory or ranking next below the abbot of an abbey.
  • n. One of the ruling magistrates of the medieval Italian republic of Florence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of that which comes before, in advance.
  • adj. former, previous
  • adv. Previously.
  • n. A high-ranking member of a monastery, usually lower in rank than an abbot.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Preceding in the order of time; former; antecedent; anterior; previous
  • adj. First, precedent, or superior in the order of cognition, reason or generality, origin, development, rank, etc.
  • n. The superior of a priory, and next below an abbot in dignity.
  • n. a chief magistrate, as in the republic of Florence in the middle ages.
  • n. a prior conviction; -- said of an accused criminal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Preceding, as in the order of time, of thought, of origin, of dignity, or of importance; in law, senior in point of time: as, a prior and a junior incumbrance.
  • Previous: used adverbially, followed by to, like previous. See previous, a.
  • n. A superior officer; a superior.
  • n. Formerly, in Italy, a chief magistrate, as in the medieval republic of Florence.
  • n. Synonyms Abbot, Prior. See def. .

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

  • adj. earlier in time
  • n. the head of a religious order; in an abbey the prior is next below the abbot


Latin; see prior2.
Middle English priour, from Old English and Old French prior, both from Medieval Latin, from Latin, superior; see per1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin prior (Wiktionary)



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