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  • adverb
    earlier; -est
    at or near the beginning of a period of time or a process, activity, series, etc.
    Early in his career he moved to the city.
    a word first recorded early in the 17th century
    We learned early [=early onnot to question his decisions.
    before the usual or expected time
    I got up early to finish packing.
    I got up bright and early. [=very early] - opposite late
    early on
    at or during an early point or stage
    The reasons were obvious early on [=early] in the experiment.
    Early on originated in British English. Some American writers have objected to it, but it is now very common in the U.S. Note that unlike early, early on can appear at the beginning of a sentence.
    Early onthe project was in trouble.
    earlier; -est
    existing or happening near the beginning of a period of time
    early morning
    the early 20th century
    He is in his early thirties. [=he is about 31 or 32 years old]
    She works the early shift. [=the shift that is in the early part of the day]
    It was still early (in the morningwhen she got out of bed. - opposite late
    b always used before a noun :happening near the beginning of a process, activity, series, etc.
    The early part of the book is better than the later part.
    coming or happening before the usual or expected time
    We had an early spring this year.
    an early bedtime
    doing something before the usual time or before others usually do
    I've always been an early riser.
    My daughter was an early reader. [=she learned to read at a young age]
    The expression the early bird catches/gets the worm means that people who start or arrive before others are more likely to succeed. - opposite late
    early days (yet)
    Brit - used to say that it is too soon to know how something will turn out
    Things haven't gone well so farbut it's early days yet.
    early hours
    xem hour
    get/make an early start
    to get started on a journey, activity, etc., early in the day
    We want to make an early start tomorrow.
    make an early night of it
    to go home or go to bed early
    They decided to make an early night of it.