Meaning of BY in English

/ baɪ; NAmE / preposition , adverb

■ preposition


near sb/sth; at the side of sb/sth; beside sb/sth :

a house by the river

The telephone is by the window.

Come and sit by me.


used, usually after a passive verb, to show who or what does, creates or causes sth :

He was knocked down by a bus.

a play by Ibsen

Who's that book by?

I was frightened by the noise.


used for showing how or in what way sth is done :

The house is heated by gas.

May I pay by cheque?

I will contact you by letter.

to travel by boat / bus / car / plane

to travel by air / land / sea

Switch it on by pressing this button.


used before particular nouns without the , to say that sth happens as a result of sth :

They met by chance.

I did it by mistake.

The coroner's verdict was 'death by misadventure'.


not later than the time mentioned; before :

Can you finish the work by five o'clock?

I'll have it done by tomorrow.

By this time next week we'll be in New York.

He ought to have arrived by now / by this time .

By the time (that) this letter reaches you I will have left the country.


past sb/sth :

He walked by me without speaking.


during sth; in a particular situation :

to travel by day / night

We had to work by candlelight.


used to show the degree or amount of sth :

The bullet missed him by two inches.

House prices went up by 10%.

It would be better by far (= much better) to ...


from what sth shows or says; according to sth :

By my watch it is two o'clock.

I could tell by the look on her face that something terrible had happened.

By law, you are a child until you are 18.


used to show the part of sb/sth that sb touches, holds, etc. :

I took him by the hand.

She seized her by the hair.

Pick it up by the handle!


used with the to show the period or quantity used for buying, selling or measuring sth :

We rented the car by the day.

They're paid by the hour.

We only sell it by the metre.


used to state the rate at which sth happens :

They're improving day by day.

We'll do it bit by bit.

It was getting worse by the minute (= very fast) .

The children came in two by two (= in groups of two) .


used for giving more information about where sb comes from, what sb does, etc. :

He's German by birth.

They're both doctors by profession.


used when swearing to mean 'in the name of' :

I swear by Almighty God ...


used to show the measurements of sth :

The room measures fifteen feet by twenty feet.


used when multiplying or dividing :

6 multiplied by 2 equals 12.

6 divided by 2 equals 3.


- by the by / bye

■ adverb


past :

Just drive by. Don't stop.

He hurried by without speaking to me.

Excuse me, I can't get by.

Time goes by so quickly.


used to say that sth is saved so that it can be used in the future :

I've put some money by for college fees.


in order to visit sb for a short time :

I'll come by this evening and pick up the books.


- by and by



Old English bī , bi , be , of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bij and German bei .

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.