prep., adv., & n.
prep. 1 near, beside, in the region of (stand by the door; sit by me; path by the river). 2 through the agency, means, instrumentality, or causation of (by proxy; bought by a millionaire; a poem by Donne; went by bus; succeeded by persisting; divide four by two). 3 not later than; as soon as (by next week; by now; by the time he arrives). 4 a past, beyond (drove by the church; came by us). b passing through; via (went by Paris). 5 in the circumstances of (by day; by daylight). 6 to the extent of (missed by a foot; better by far). 7 according to; using as a standard or unit (judge by appearances; paid by the hour). 8 with the succession of (worse by the minute; day by day; one by one). 9 concerning; in respect of (did our duty by them; Smith by name; all right by me). 10 used in mild oaths (orig. = as surely as one believes in) (by God; by gum; swear by all that is sacred). 11 placed between specified lengths in two directions (three feet by two). 12 avoiding, ignoring (pass by him; passed us by). 13 inclining to (north by north-west).
adv. 1 near (sat by, watching; lives close by). 2 aside; in reserve (put $5 by). 3 past (they marched by).
n. = BYE. by and by before long; eventually. by and large on the whole, everything considered. by the by (or bye) incidentally, parenthetically. by oneself 1 a unaided. b without prompting. 2 alone; without company.
[ OE bi, bi, be f. Gmc ]