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early

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adjective early pronunciation in American English /ˈɜrli/ 
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adjectiveearly
comparativeearlier
superlativeearliest
  1. 1
    before the time that something is expected or arranged to happen

    My train was ten minutes early.

    early for:

    You're a little early for the party.

    1. a.
      before the time that something usually happens

      Spring was unusually early that year.

      Let's have an early lunch and then go to the movies.

      Is it too early to call them?

  2. 2
    [usually before noun] near the beginning of a period of time

    The plants flower in early spring.

    The temperature drops to below freezing in the early evening.

    In the early 1980s, several thousand jobs were lost.

    1. a.
      used about periods in someone's life

      Julia is in her early thirties.

      memories of my early childhood

      From an early age, Chaplin believed in his talents.

    2. b.
      used about the first part of an activity, process, or event

      The project is still in its very early stages.

      It is too early to predict whether the unemployment rate has peaked.

      in the early days (=soon after something began):

      We didn't think much about the environment in those early days.

  3. 3
    used about the first people or things of a particular type

    The early settlers used to heat their cabins with wood.

    early editions of the novel

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