Etymology
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before (adv., prep.)
Old English beforan "in front of, in former times; in the presence of, in front of in time or position," from Proto-Germanic *bi- "by" (see by) + *forana "from the front," adverbial derivative of *fora (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before"). Compare Old Frisian bifara, Old Saxon biforan, Old High German bifora, German bevor.

As a conjunction, "previous to the time when," from c. 1200. Contrasting before and after in illustrations is from Hogarth (1768). Before the mast in old sailing ship jargon in reference to the life of a common sailor is from the place of their berths, in front of the fore-mast.
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beforetime (adv.)
"in former times," c. 1300, from before + time (n.). Related: Beforetimes.
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beforehand (adv.)
also before-hand, "in anticipation," early 13c., from before + hand, which here is of uncertain signification, unless the original notion is payment in advance or something done before another's hand does it. Hyphenated from 18c.; one word from 19c.
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afore (adv.)
Middle English, from Old English onforan, contraction of prepositional phrase on foran "before in place, at the beginning of, in front of," from on (prep.), see a- (1), + foran (adv.) "in front," dative of for. In some cases probably it represents Old English ætforan "at-fore."

Early 14c. as a preposition, "before in time," and as a conjunction, "earlier than the time when, before." Once the literary equivalent of before, it now has been replaced by that word except in nautical use, colloquial dialects, and in combinations such as aforesaid, aforethought.
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fore (adv., prep.)
Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of, in presence of; because of, for the sake of; earlier in time; instead of;" as an adverb, "before, previously, formerly, once," from Proto-Germanic *fura "before" (source also of Old Saxon fora, Old Frisian fara, Old High German fora, German vor, Danish for, Old Norse fyrr, Gothic faiura "for"), from PIE *prae-, extended form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before."

Now displaced by before. In nautical use, "toward the bows of the ship." Merged from 13c. with the abbreviated forms of afore and before and thus formerly often written 'fore. As a noun, "the front," from 1630s. The warning cry in golf is first recorded 1878, probably a contraction of before.
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below (adv.)
"in a lower position," early 14c., biloogh, from be- "by, about" + logh, lou, lowe "low" (see low (adj.)). Apparently a variant of earlier a-lowe (influenced by other adverbs in be-; see before), the parallel form to an-high (now on high).

Beneath was the usual word; below was very rare in Middle English and gained currency only in 16c. It is frequent in Shakespeare. As a preposition from 1570s. In nautical use, "off-duty," in contradistinction to "on deck." Meaning "inferior in rank or dignity" is from c. 1600. According to Fowler, below is the opposite of above and concerns difference of level and suggests comparison of independent things. Under is the opposite of over and is concerned with superposition and subjection and suggests some interrelation.
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pretrial (adj.)

"of or pertaining to the period before a trial," 1921, American English, from pre- "before" + trial. As a noun, "preliminary hearing before a trial," 1938.

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antenatal (adj.)
"before birth," 1798; see ante- "before" + natal "pertaining to birth." Ante-nati was an old term for (in Scotland) those born before the accession of James I to the English throne, also used in U.S. in reference to those born in the colonies before the Declaration of Independence.
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antecede (v.)
"come before in time, place, or order," early 15c. (implied in anteceding), from Latin antecedere "go before," from ante "before" (from PIE root *ant- "front, forehead," with derivatives meaning "in front of, before") + cedere "to yield" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield"). Related: Anteceded; anteceding.
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precede (v.)

early 15c., preceden, "lead the way; occur or exist before, go before in order of time," from Old French preceder and directly from Latin praecedere "to go before," from prae "before" (see pre-) + cedere "to go" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield"). Meaning "to walk in front of" is late 15c.; that of "to go before in rank or importance" is attested from mid-15c. Related: Preceded; preceding.

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