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early - definition and synonyms


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adjective early pronunciation in British English /ˈɜː(r)li/
Word Forms
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  1. 1
    [usually before noun] near the beginning of a period of time
    In the early 1980s, several thousand jobs were lost.
    The temperature drops to below freezing in the early evening.
    The plants flower in early spring.
    1. a.
      used about periods in someones life
      From an early age, Chaplin believed in his talents.
      memories of my early childhood
      Julia is in her early thirties.
    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.
  2. 2
    before the time that something usually happens
    Spring was unusually early that year.
    Let’s have an early lunch and then go to the cinema.
    Is it too early to phone them?
    1. a.
      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.
  3. 3
    used about the first people or things of a particular type
    The early settlers used to heat their cabins with coal.
    early editions of the novel



a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

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an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

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