at or near the beginning of a period of time or course of events or before the usual or expected time
- "early varieties of peas and tomatoes mature before most standard varieties"
- "an early spring"
- "took early retirement"
- "an early death"
- "early diagnosis"
- "an early warning"
- "early morning"
being or occurring at an early stage of development; "an early computer
- "early man"
- "early forms of life"
- "in an early stage"
- "at an early age"
(linguistics) of an early stage in the development of a language or literature
- "Early Modern English is represented in documents printed from 1476 to 1700"
- "the Early Hebrew alphabetical script is that used mainly from the 11th to the 6th centuries B.C."
expected in the near future
- "look for an early end to the negotiations"
(comparative and superlative of `early') more early than; most early
- "Verdi's earliest and most raucous opera"
- "his earlier work reflects the influence of his teacher"
- "a fashion popular in earlier times"
earlier in time; previously
- "came earlier than I expected"
- "I mentioned that problem earlier"
- "her parents had died four years earlier"
- "he called me the day before but your call had come even earlier"