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pri·or 1 (prīər)
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adj.
1. Preceding in time or order: [They] insist that foreign vessels seeking access obtain prior approval” (Seymour M. Hersh).
2. Preceding in importance or value: a prior consideration.
adv.
Usage Problem Before.
n.
A previous conviction or arrest: The suspect has two priors.

[Latin; see PRIOR2.]

prior·ly adv.

Usage Note: Though prior usually modifies a noun that comes after it, as in prior approval, it sometimes modifies a noun for a unit of time which precedes it, as in five years prior. These constructions are marginally acceptable when the combination serves as the object of a preposition, as in A gallon of gasoline was $4.29, up 10 cents from the week prior. In our 2014 survey, 51 percent of the Panelists accepted the sentence, with many commenting that they would prefer from the prior week or from the week before. The construction is even less acceptable when it acts as an adverbial modifier: only 29 percent of the Panel approved My cellphone was stolen. I had just bought it two days prior.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
pri·or 2 (prīər)
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n.
1. A monastic officer in charge of a priory or ranking next below the abbot of an abbey.
2. One of the ruling magistrates of the medieval Italian republic of Florence.

[Middle English priour, from Old English and Old French prior, both from Medieval Latin, from Latin, superior; see per1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

prior·ate (-ĭt), prior·ship (-shĭp) n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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