Before Be*fore", prep. [OE. beforen, biforen, before, AS. beforan; pref. be- + foran, fore, before. See Be-, and Fore.] 1. In front of; preceding in space; ahead of; as, to stand before the fire; before the house. His angel, who shall go Before them in a cloud and pillar of fire. --Milton. 2. Preceding in time; earlier than; previously to; anterior to the time when; -- sometimes with the additional idea of purpose; in order that. Before Abraham was, I am. --John viii. 58. Before this treatise can become of use, two points are necessary. --Swift. Note: Formerly before, in this sense, was followed by that. ``Before that Philip called thee . . . I saw thee.' --John i. 48. 3. An advance of; farther onward, in place or time. The golden age . . . is before us. --Carlyle. 4. Prior or preceding in dignity, order, rank, right, or worth; rather than. He that cometh after me is preferred before me. --John i. 15. The eldest son is before the younger in succession. --Johnson. 5. In presence or sight of; face to face with; facing. Abraham bowed down himself before the people. --Gen. xxiii. 12. Wherewith shall I come before the Lord? --Micah vi. 6. 6. Under the cognizance or jurisdiction of. If a suit be begun before an archdeacon. --Ayliffe. 7. Open for; free of access to; in the power of. The world was all before them where to choose. --Milton. Before the mast (Naut.), as a common sailor, -- because the sailors live in the forecastle, forward of the foremast. Before the wind (Naut.), in the direction of the wind and by its impulse; having the wind aft., Before Be*fore", adv. 1. On the fore part; in front, or in the direction of the front; -- opposed to in the rear. The battle was before and behind. --2 Chron. xiii. 14. 2. In advance. ``I come before to tell you.' --Shak. 3. In time past; previously; already. You tell me, mother, what I knew before. --Dryden. 4. Earlier; sooner than; until then. When the butt is out, we will drink water; not a drop before. --Shak. Note: Before is often used in self-explaining compounds; as, before-cited, before-mentioned; beforesaid.