Etymology
Advertisement
former (adj.)
"earlier in time," mid-12c., comparative of forme "first, earliest in time or order," from Old English forma "first," from Proto-Germanic *fruma-, *furma-, from PIE *pre-mo-, suffixed (superlative) form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first." Probably patterned on formest (see foremost); it is an unusual case of a comparative formed from a superlative (the Old English -m is a superlative suffix). As "first of two," 1580s.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
former (n.)
"one who gives form," mid-14c., agent noun from form (v.). The Latin agent noun was formator.
Related entries & more 
formerly (adv.)
"in times past," 1580s, from former (adj.) + -ly (2). A Middle English word for this was andersith "formerly, at former times" (early 14c.).
Related entries & more 
*per- (1)

Proto-Indo-European root forming prepositions, etc., meaning "forward," and, by extension, "in front of, before, first, chief, toward, near, against," etc.

It forms all or part of: afford; approach; appropriate; approve; approximate; barbican; before; deprive; expropriate; far; first; for; for-; fore; fore-; forefather; foremost; former (adj.); forth; frame; frau; fret; Freya; fro; froward; from; furnish; furniture; further; galore; hysteron-proteron; impervious; improbity; impromptu; improve; palfrey; par (prep.); para- (1) "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal;" paradise; pardon; paramount; paramour; parvenu; pellucid; per; per-; percent; percussion; perennial; perestroika; perfect; perfidy; perform; perfume; perfunctory; perhaps; peri-; perish; perjury; permanent; permeate; permit; pernicious; perpendicular; perpetual; perplex; persecute; persevere; perspective; perspire; persuasion; pertain; peruse; pervade; pervert; pierce; portray; postprandial; prae-; Prakrit; pre-; premier; presbyter; Presbyterian; preterite; pride; priest; primal; primary; primate; primavera; prime; primeval; primitive; primo; primogenitor; primogeniture; primordial; primus; prince; principal; principle; prior; pristine; private; privilege; privy; pro (n.2) "a consideration or argument in favor;" pro-; probably; probe; probity; problem; proceed; proclaim; prodigal; produce; profane; profess; profile; profit; profound; profuse; project; promise; prompt; prone; proof; proper; property; propinquity; prophet; prose; prostate; prosthesis; protagonist; Protean; protect; protein; Proterozoic; protest; proto-; protocol; proton; protoplasm; Protozoa; proud; prove; proverb; provide; provoke; prow; prowess; proximate; Purana; purchase; purdah; reciprocal; rapprochement; reproach; reprove; veneer.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pari "around, about, through," parah "farther, remote, ulterior," pura "formerly, before," pra- "before, forward, forth;" Avestan pairi- "around," paro "before;" Hittite para "outside of," Greek peri "around, about, near, beyond," pera "across, beyond," paros "before," para "from beside, beyond," pro "before;" Latin pro "before, for, on behalf of, instead of," porro "forward," prae "before," per "through;" Old Church Slavonic pra-dedu "great-grandfather;" Russian pere- "through;" Lithuanian per "through;" Old Irish ire "farther," roar "enough;" Gothic faura "before," Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of," (adv.) "before, previously," fram "forward, from," feor "to a great distance, long ago;" German vor "before, in front of;" Old Irish air- Gothic fair-, German ver-, Old English fer-, intensive prefixes.

Related entries & more 
Hindoo 
former spelling of Hindu (q.v.).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
olden (adj.)

"former, long ago," c. 1400, from old + -en (2). Old English had on ealdum dagum "in former times, long ago."

Related entries & more 
Ghana 
since 1957 the name of the former Gold Coast; from the name of a former tribal chieftain, whose name itself is a form of a royal title, hence, "king." Related: Ghanian.
Related entries & more 
protero- 
before vowels proter-, word-forming element meaning "former, earlier," from Greek proteros "before, former, anterior," from PIE *pro-, from root *per- (1) "forward" (hence "before, first").
Related entries & more 
kinema (n.)
former alternative spelling of cinema, with the Greek k-.
Related entries & more 
Benin 
former West African kingdom, from the Bini people, whose name is perhaps related to Arabic bani "sons." Though the people now is associated with Nigeria, the name was taken 1974 by the former nation of Dahomey.
Related entries & more