The word "prior" means before or earlier. It’s a good word to know because you will hear it used when people talk about appointments, daily events, and major life events:

  • Tony’s prior job was in assembly. (The job he had before was in assembly.)
  • I’m sorry I can’t come to the meeting. I have a prior commitment.
  • Prior to their arrival in the United States, they lived in Kenya.
  • You’ll need permission prior to taking this class. ("prior to" is often followed by a gerund.)
  • You need prior approval before taking this class.

You can add "i-t-y" to "prior" to make the noun "priority." A priority is something that is very important and which comes before other things:

  • Finishing college is a priority for her. She’ll get married after she gets her degree.
  • You need to get your priorities straight. (This is kind of like an expression. It’s used with someone who doesn’t make good decisions. He or she doesn’t consider what is really important to do first, second, third, etc.)
  • What are your priorities? (What’s important to you?)


The well being of his family is his top priority.

Click here to continue working on your vocabulary.

November 17, 2011