Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

then - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective, adverb     then pronunciation in British English
Then can be used in the following ways:
as an adverb: I was still at school then.
as an adjective (only before a noun): the then prime minister, Harold Wilson
  1. 1
    at that time
    1. a.
      at a particular time in the past or in the future

      Did you hear him when he left the house?’ ‘Yes, I heard him then and when he came back.’

      a political refugee who was then living in the United States

      until/since/by/before then:

      I can see you next weekend. Can you wait until then?

      Back in 1950 Bourton was a sleepy little village, but things have changed a lot since then.

    2. b.
      used for referring to the person who had a particular job or position at a particular time in the past
      the then president/governor/owner etc:

      the then Secretary of State, Michael Forsyth

      My grandfather rented 120 Church Street from the then owners, W. Collins and Sons.

  2. 2
    used for introducing the next thing that happens

    He glanced quickly at Sally and then looked away again.

    Add the numbers together first – then multiply.

    First Lewis will give a TV interview. Then comes the main news conference.

  3. 3
    as a result
    1. a.
      used for saying what the result must be if something is true

      ‘He won’t resign.’ ‘Then we must force him to leave.’

      if... then:

      If no one else is willing, then I’ll have to do the job myself.

    2. b.
      spoken used at the end of a question when you think something must be true because of what has just been said

      ‘We went to the same school.’ ‘You’re old friends then?’

      You’re not angry with me, then?

    3. c.
      literary used when you are giving the result of the events that you have been describing

      This, then, was the problem that faced him – he could not do his duty without betraying his friends.

  4. 4
    spoken used at the end of a conversation for showing that you think something has been agreed

    All right then, I’ll see you back at the hotel.

    So that’s agreed then – lunch for eight on Christmas Day.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a rainbow produced when water droplets in the air reflect light from the moon rather than the sun

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

platform capitalism

a way of doing business that involves recruiting large numbers of people who work for themselves using the company's platform, as used by companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and the like

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play