WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
pri•or1 /ˈpraɪɚ/USA pronunciation   adj. [before a noun]
  1. coming before another;
    earlier:a prior commitment.
  2. greater in importance:a prior claim on his time.
  1. Idiomsprior to, coming before;
    before:Prior to this job she had worked in Austria.

See -prim-.
pri•or2 /ˈpraɪɚ/USA pronunciation   n. [countable]
  1. Religiona monk in a monastery who is ranked next below an abbot.

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
pri•or1  (prīər),USA pronunciation  adj. 
  1. preceding in time or in order;
    earlier or former;
    previous:A prior agreement prevents me from accepting this.
  2. preceding in importance or privilege.
  3. Idiomsprior to, preceding;
    before:Prior to that time, buffalo had roamed the Great Plains in tremendous numbers.

  1. Informal Termsa prior conviction.
prior•ly, adv. 
  • Latin: former, elder, superior (adjective, adjectival), before (adverb, adverbial); akin to prime, pre-
  • 1705–15
    • 1.See corresponding entry in Unabridged anterior, antecedent.

pri•or2  (prīər),USA pronunciation  n. 
  1. Religionan officer in a monastic order or religious house, sometimes next in rank below an abbot.
  2. World Historya chief magistrate, as in the medieval republic of Florence.
prior•ship′, n. 
  • Medieval Latin, Late Latin: one superior in rank; noun, nominal use of prior prior1
  • Middle English, late Old English bef. 1100

Pri•or  (prīər),USA pronunciation n. 
  • BiographicalMatthew,  1664–1721, English poet.

  • Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    prior /ˈpraɪə/ adj
    1. (prenominal) previous; preceding
    2. prior tobefore; until
    Etymology: 18th Century: from Latin: previous
    prior /ˈpraɪə/ n
    1. the superior of a house and community in certain religious orders
    2. the deputy head of a monastery or abbey, ranking immediately below the abbot
    Etymology: 11th Century: from Late Latin: head, from Latin (adj): previous, from Old Latin pri before

    Prior /ˈpraɪə/ n
    1. Matthew. 1664–1721, English poet and diplomat, noted for his epigrammatic occasional verse

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