Word of the Day: former

Word of the Day
April 7, 2016
former (adjective, noun)
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Sometimes it can be difficult to let go of former partners.
As an adjective, former refers to something that has once been or to something that was mentioned before. It also refers to something that happened earlier in time. As a noun, a former is someone or something that builds, forms, or influences something. It is also a tool designed to form shapes.


Example sentences
Bill Clinton is a former president of the United States.
Your former comment was more accurate.
The event was more successful in former years; this year, not many people attended.
Teachers are formers of young minds.
The craftsman used a former to create the shape he wanted.


Multi-word forms
the former: the first of two things mentioned. The opposite of this is the latter, and these words are often used in conjunction. Example: "I have two jobs; I'm a freelance translator and a writer. The former pays the bills and the latter is mainly for enjoyment."
Additional information
British secondary school pupils used to be known as formers, according to which form they were in. If you were in the fourth form, you were a fourth former, or a fifth former if you were in the fifth, and so on. However, state schools no longer use forms, but organize their pupils into year groups, so the term has mainly fallen out of use.
Did you know?
In many cases you can use ex- instead of former as an adjective for something that has once been. Example: "At the time, Margaret Thatcher was an ex-Prime Minister of Britain." Often, you can also use old. Example: "I saw my old teacher from primary school today." (It doesn't mean the person is old!) Ex- and old are more common in informal speech, whereas former is slightly formal.
As an adjective, former dates back to the middle of the 12th century and comes from Middle English, an equivalent of forme (and the Old English word forma, meaning 'first') + -er. The noun dates back to the first half of the 14th century and comes from the Middle English word fourmer.
Former in other languages
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