before


before
before, ahead, forward are comparable when they mean in advance, especially in place or in time.
Before is more commonly used in reference to time than to place. Its most frequent implication is previousness or priority
{

I have heard that before

}
{

not dead, but gone beforeRogers

}
{

dreams no mortal ever dared to dream beforePoe

}
Sometimes, however, it implies futurity
{

we look before and after, and pine for what is not— Shelley

}
This use is not a contradiction of the temporal sense, but an extension of the adverb in its less frequent meaning of in front or in the van
{

thou art so far before that swiftest wing of recompense is slow to overtake thee— Shak.

}
Ahead and forward are the commonest adverbs indicating position in advance or in front of something and have practically supplanted before;
ahead, however, usually implies a position outside of a thing, often a moving thing, and forward frequently implies a front position in the thing itself. Thus, to send a group of scouts ahead implies their detachment from an advancing body of troops; to send a company forward usually means to send them to a position nearer the front or in the van of a regiment. In nautical context ahead (opposed to astern) indicates a position or direction in front of and outside of the ship
{

breakers ahead

}
{

a sail ahead

}
{

full speed ahead

}
while forward (opposed to aft) indicates one in front of the midships section of the vessel
{

the guns were placed forward

}
The same distinction is often found in extended use; thus, one who looks ahead can foresee the remote consequences of a decision and ignore the immediate results, while one who looks forward anticipates something likely or bound to occur
{

no longer forward nor behind I look in hope or fear— Whittier

}
There is no difference between ahead and forward in reference to mechanisms which can be reversed or the opposite, except as determined by idiom
{

set a clock ahead

}
{

drive an engine forward

}
Forward, unlike ahead, is rarely used in reference to time except in its sense of onward (see ONWARD)
{

from that time forward I believed what he told me

}
Ahead, on the other hand, comes close to before in its implication of previousness or priority. Thus, a person finds himself forward of an appointment when he arrives ahead of time; idiomatically, one puts the clock forward (or sets it ahead) when he changes the position of the hands so that they record a later time.
Antonyms: after
Contrasted words: behind (see AFTER): *abaft, aft, astern

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • Before — Be*fore , prep. [OE. beforen, biforen, before, AS. beforan; pref. be + foran, fore, before. See {Be }, and {Fore}.] 1. In front of; preceding in space; ahead of; as, to stand before the fire; before the house. [1913 Webster] His angel, who shall… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Before — Be*fore , adv. 1. On the fore part; in front, or in the direction of the front; opposed to {in the rear}. [1913 Webster] The battle was before and behind. 2 Chron. xiii. 14. [1913 Webster] 2. In advance. I come before to tell you. Shak. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • before — I. adverb or adjective Etymology: Middle English, adverb & preposition, from Old English beforan, from be + foran before, from fore Date: before 12th century 1. in advance ; ahead < marching on before > 2. at an earlier time ; previously …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Before the mast — Before Be*fore , prep. [OE. beforen, biforen, before, AS. beforan; pref. be + foran, fore, before. See {Be }, and {Fore}.] 1. In front of; preceding in space; ahead of; as, to stand before the fire; before the house. [1913 Webster] His angel, who …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Before the wind — Before Be*fore , prep. [OE. beforen, biforen, before, AS. beforan; pref. be + foran, fore, before. See {Be }, and {Fore}.] 1. In front of; preceding in space; ahead of; as, to stand before the fire; before the house. [1913 Webster] His angel, who …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Before The Game — is an Australian rules football/comedy television show in Australia on Network Ten.The show is hosted by Andrew Maher, with regular panelists including Mick Molloy, Dave Hughes, Sam Lane, and Lehmo. The format of the show is a light hearted… …   Wikipedia

  • before long — {adv. phr.} In a short time; without much delay; in a little while, soon. * /Class will be over before long./ * /We were tired of waiting and hoped the bus would come before long./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • before long — {adv. phr.} In a short time; without much delay; in a little while, soon. * /Class will be over before long./ * /We were tired of waiting and hoped the bus would come before long./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • Before Present — (BP) years are a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the present time changes, standard practice is to use 1950 as the arbitrary origin of the age scale.… …   Wikipedia

  • before you know it — {adv. phr.} Sooner than one would expect. * /Don t despair; we ll be finished with this work before you know it!/ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • before you know it — {adv. phr.} Sooner than one would expect. * /Don t despair; we ll be finished with this work before you know it!/ …   Dictionary of American idioms


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