(noun, adjective, adverb)


1. at or near the beginning of a period of time or course of events or before the usual or expected time

- early morning

- an early warning

- early diagnosis

Similar word(s): aboriginal, primaeval, primal, primeval, primordial, advance, beforehand, archaean, archean, archaeozoic, archeozoic, azoic, earlier, earliest, earlyish, premature, untimely, previous, proterozoic, proto, wee, first

2. being or occurring at an early stage of development

- in an early stage

- early forms of life

- early man

Similar word(s): archaic, primitive, new, young, crude, rude, embryonic, embryotic, inchoate, incipient, precocious

3. belonging to the distant past

- the early inhabitants of Europe

Similar word(s): past, former, other

4. very young

- at an early age

Similar word(s): immature, young

5. of an early stage in the development of a language or literature

- the Early Hebrew alphabetical script is that used mainly from the 11th to the 6th centuries B.C.

- Early Modern English is represented in documents printed from 1476 to 1700

Similar word(s): old

6. expected in the near future

- look for an early end to the negotiations

Similar word(s): future

Sentences with early as an adjective:

- at eleven, we went for an early lunch;

- You're early today! I don't usually see you before nine o'clock.

- The early guests sipped their punch and avoided each other's eyes.

- The play "Two Gentlemen of Verona" is one of Shakespeare's early works.

- Early results showed their winning 245 out of 300 seats in parliament. The main opponent locked up only 31 seats.

- early cancer


1. during an early stage

- early on in her career

2. before the usual time or the time expected

- she graduated early

3. in good time

Similar word(s): betimes

Sentences with early as an adverb:

- We finished the project an hour sooner than scheduled, so we left early.


1. A shift (scheduled work period) that takes place early in the day.