(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"
"An early death"
"Took early retirement"
"An early spring"
"Early varieties of peas and tomatoes mature before most standard varieties"
(2)   Being or occurring at an early stage of development
"In an early stage"
"Early forms of life"
"Early man"
"An early computer"
(3)   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"
(4)   Very young
"At an early age"
(5)   Expected in the near future
"Look for an early end to the negotiations"


(6)   Before the usual time or the time expected
"She graduated early"
"The house was completed ahead of time"
(7)   In good time
"He awoke betimes that morning"
(8)   During an early stage
"Early on in her career"


From , , from + adverbial suffix . Cognate with Old Norse ( > Danish and Norwegian )


  1. At a time in advance of the usual or expected event.
    At eleven, we went for an early lunch.
    She began reading at an early age.
    His mother suffered an early death.
  2. Arriving a time before expected; sooner than on-time.
    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.
  3. Near the start or beginning.
    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.


  1. At a time before expected; sooner than usual.
    We finished the project an hour sooner than scheduled, so we left early.