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In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed... No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.
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1828 Noah Webster Dictionary
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by

BY, prep.

1. Near; close; as, sit by me; that house stands by a river.

[L. pressus.]

2. Near, in motion; as, to move, go or pass by a church. But it seems, in other phrases,or with a verb in the past time, to signify past, gone beyond. "The procession is gone by;" "the hour is gone by;" "John went by." We now use past as an equivalent word. The procession is gone past. Gone by is in strictness tautology, as now used; but I apprehend by signifies primarily near.

3. Through, or with, denoting the agent, means, instrument or cause; as, "a city is destroyed by fire;" "profit is made by commerce;" "to take by force." This use answers to that of the Latin per, through, denoting a passing, acting, agency, or instrumentality.

4. "Day by day;" "year by year;" "article by article." In these phrases, by denotes passing from one to another, or each particular separately taken.

5. "By the space of seven years." In this phrase, by denotes through, passing or continuing, during.

6. "By this time, the sun had risen." The word here seems to denote, at, present or come to.

7. According to; as, "this appears by his own account;" "these are good rules to live by."

8. On; as, "to pass by land or water;" "great battles by sea and land." In the latter phrase, at or on might be substituted for by.

9. It is placed before words denoting quantity, measure or proportion; as, to sell by the pound; to work by the rod or perch; this line is longer by a tenth.

10. It is used to represent the means or instrument of swearing, or affirming; as, to swear by heaven, or by earth; to affirm by all that is sacred.

11. In the phrase, "he has a cask of wine by him," by denotes nearness or presence.

12. "To sit by one's self," is to sit alone, or without company.

13. "To be present by attorney." In this phrase, by denotes means or instrument; through or in the presence of a substitute.

14. In the phrase, "North by West," the sense seems to be north passing to the west, inclining or going westward, or near west.

As an adverb, by denotes also nearness, or presence; as, there was no person by, at the time. But some noun is understood. So in the phrase, "to pass or go by," there is a noun understood.

By and by is a phrase denoting nearness in time; in a short time after; presently; soon.

When persecution ariseth, because of the word, by and by, he is offended. Math.13.

By the by signifies, as we proceed or pass.

To stand by, is to stand near, or to support.

By in lullaby, and in the nursery, a word used in lulling infants to sleep, is evidently allied to words found in many languages, signifying to rest, or be quiet, or to appease; that is, to press, to stop. [L.paco.]

By or bye, in by-law.

In the common phrase, good-bye, bye signifies passing, going. The phrase signifies, a good going, a prosperous passage, and it is precisely equivalent to farewell.

By is used in many compound words, in most of which we observe the sense of nearness, closeness, or a withdrawing or seclusion.




Evolution (or devolution) of this word [by]

1828 Webster1844 Webster1913 Webster

BY, prep.

1. Near; close; as, sit by me; that house stands by a river.

[L. pressus.]

2. Near, in motion; as, to move, go or pass by a church. But it seems, in other phrases,or with a verb in the past time, to signify past, gone beyond. "The procession is gone by;" "the hour is gone by;" "John went by." We now use past as an equivalent word. The procession is gone past. Gone by is in strictness tautology, as now used; but I apprehend by signifies primarily near.

3. Through, or with, denoting the agent, means, instrument or cause; as, "a city is destroyed by fire;" "profit is made by commerce;" "to take by force." This use answers to that of the Latin per, through, denoting a passing, acting, agency, or instrumentality.

4. "Day by day;" "year by year;" "article by article." In these phrases, by denotes passing from one to another, or each particular separately taken.

5. "By the space of seven years." In this phrase, by denotes through, passing or continuing, during.

6. "By this time, the sun had risen." The word here seems to denote, at, present or come to.

7. According to; as, "this appears by his own account;" "these are good rules to live by."

8. On; as, "to pass by land or water;" "great battles by sea and land." In the latter phrase, at or on might be substituted for by.

9. It is placed before words denoting quantity, measure or proportion; as, to sell by the pound; to work by the rod or perch; this line is longer by a tenth.

10. It is used to represent the means or instrument of swearing, or affirming; as, to swear by heaven, or by earth; to affirm by all that is sacred.

11. In the phrase, "he has a cask of wine by him," by denotes nearness or presence.

12. "To sit by one's self," is to sit alone, or without company.

13. "To be present by attorney." In this phrase, by denotes means or instrument; through or in the presence of a substitute.

14. In the phrase, "North by West," the sense seems to be north passing to the west, inclining or going westward, or near west.

As an adverb, by denotes also nearness, or presence; as, there was no person by, at the time. But some noun is understood. So in the phrase, "to pass or go by," there is a noun understood.

By and by is a phrase denoting nearness in time; in a short time after; presently; soon.

When persecution ariseth, because of the word, by and by, he is offended. Math.13.

By the by signifies, as we proceed or pass.

To stand by, is to stand near, or to support.

By in lullaby, and in the nursery, a word used in lulling infants to sleep, is evidently allied to words found in many languages, signifying to rest, or be quiet, or to appease; that is, to press, to stop. [L.paco.]

By or bye, in by-law.

In the common phrase, good-bye, bye signifies passing, going. The phrase signifies, a good going, a prosperous passage, and it is precisely equivalent to farewell.

By is used in many compound words, in most of which we observe the sense of nearness, closeness, or a withdrawing or seclusion.


BY, prep. [Sax. be or big; Goth. bi; Sw. and Dan. be; D. by; G. bei; all contracted from big. This word in composition is often written be, as in because, besiege. In Sw. and Dan. it is used only in composition. The Sw. and Dan. paa, and Russ. po, may be from a different root, although they are nearly allied in signification, and may be the same word differently written. This preposition occurs as a prefix in all the Shemitic languages, contracted indeed into ב. (See the Introduction.) The primary sense is, pressing, close, near, at; but in Goth. and Sax. it signifies also, about, according to, on, with, against, after, &c. In some of these senses, it coincides with the Russ. po. The original verb to which this word belongs, most probably signifies to pass, to go, or come, to drive, to press.]

  1. Near; close; as, sit by me; that house stands by a river. So in It. presso from L. pressus; Fr. près, auprès.
  2. Near, in motion; as, to move, go or pass by a church. But it seems, in other phrases, or with a verb in the past time, to signify past, gone beyond; as, the procession is gone by; the hour is gone by; John went by. We now use past as an equivalent word, – the procession is gone past. Gone by is in strictness tautology, as now used; but I apprehend by signifies primarily near.
  3. Through, or with, denoting the agent, means, instrument or cause; as, a city is destroyed by fire; profit is made by commerce; to take by force. This use answers to that of the Latin per, through, denoting a passing, acting, agency, or instrumentality.
  4. “Day by day;” “year by year;” “article by article.” In these phrases, by denotes passing from one to another, or each particular separately taken.
  5. By the space of seven years.” In this phrase, by denotes through, passing or continuing, during.
  6. By this time, the sun had risen.” The word here seems to denote, at, present or come to.
  7. According to; as, this appears by his own account; these are good rules to live by.
  8. On; as, to pass by land or water; great battles by sea and land. In the latter phrase, at or on might be substituted for by.
  9. It is placed before words denoting quantity, measure or proportion; as, to sell by the pound; to work by the rod or perch; this line is longer by a tenth.
  10. It is used to represent the means or instrument of swearing, or affirming; as, to swear by heaven, or by earth; to affirm by all that is sacred.
  11. In the phrase, “he has a cask of wine by him,” by denotes nearness or presence.
  12. “To sit by one's self,” is, to sit alone, or without company.
  13. “To be present by attorney.” In this phrase, by denote means or instrument; through or in the presence of a substitute.
  14. In the phrase, “North by West,” the sense seems to north passing to the west, inclining or going westward, or near west. As an adverb, by denotes also nearness, or presence; as, there was no person by, at the time. But some noun is understood. So in the phrase, “to pass or go by,” there is a noun understood. By and by, is a phrase denoting nearness in time; in a short time after; presently; soon. When persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. – Matth. xiii. By the by signifies, as we proceed or pass, [Fr. en passant,] noting something interposed in the progress of a discourse, which is distinct from the main subject. The old phrase, “on the by,” on the passage, is now obsolete. To stand by, is to stand near, or to support. By, in lullaby, and in the nursery, a word used in lulling infants to sleep, is evidently allied to words found in many languages, signifying to rest, or be quiet, or to appease; that is, to press, to stop, us the Gr. παυω, L. paco. It is used in Russia, as with us, bayu, bai. This probably is the same word as the foregoing. By or bye, in by-law, Sax. bilage, is probably the Sw. by, Dan. bye, a village, town, borough or city, from Sw. bygga, Dan. bygger, G. bauen, D. bouwen, to build, Sax. byan, to inhabit; that is, a town-law, a municipal law. In the common phrase, goodbye, by signifies passing, going. The phrase signifies, a good going, a prosperous passage, and it is precisely equivalent to farewell, Sax. faran, to go, go well, may you have a good going, equivalent to good speed, in the phrase, “to bid one good speed.” [Not God speed, as is generally read and understood.] By is used in many compound words, in most of which we observe the sense of nearness, closeness, or a withdrawing or seclusion.

By
  1. In the neighborhood of; near or next to; not far from; close to; along with; as, come and sit by me.


    [1913 Webster]

    By foundation or by shady rivulet
    He sought them both.
    Milton.

  2. Near; in the neighborhood; present; as, there was no person by at the time.
  3. Out of the common path; aside; -- used in composition, giving the meaning of something aside, secondary, or incidental, or collateral matter, a thing private or avoiding notice; as, by-line, by-place, by-play, by- street. It was formerly more freely used in composition than it is now; as, by-business, by-concernment, by-design, by- interest, etc.
  4. On; along; in traversing. Compare 5.

    Long labors both by sea and land he bore.
    Dryden.

    By land, by water, they renew the charge.
    Pope.

  5. Passing near; going past; past; beyond; as, the procession has gone by; a bird flew by.
  6. Near to, while passing; hence, from one to the other side of; past; as, to go by a church.
  7. Aside; as, to lay by; to put by.
  8. Used in specifying adjacent dimensions; as, a cabin twenty feet by forty.
  9. Against.

    [Obs.] Tyndale [1. Cor. iv. 4].
  10. With, as means, way, process, etc.; through means of; with aid of; through; through the act or agency of; as, a city is destroyed by fire; profit is made by commerce; to take by force.

    To the meaning of by, as denoting means or agency, belong, more or less closely, most of the following uses of the word: (a) It points out the author and producer; as, "Waverley", a novel by Sir W.Scott; a statue by Canova; a sonata by Beethoven. (b) In an oath or adjuration, it indicates the being or thing appealed to as sanction; as, I affirm to you by all that is sacred; he swears by his faith as a Christian; no, by Heaven. (c) According to; by direction, authority, or example of; after; -- in such phrases as, it appears by his account; ten o'clock by my watch; to live by rule; a model to build by. (d) At the rate of; according to the ratio or proportion of; in the measure or quantity of; as, to sell cloth by the yard, milk by the quart, eggs by the dozen, meat by the pound; to board by the year. (e) In comparison, it denotes the measure of excess or deficiency; when anything is increased or diminished, it indicates the measure of increase or diminution; as, larger by a half; older by five years; to lessen by a third. (f) It expresses continuance or duration; during the course of; within the period of; as, by day, by night. (g) As soon as; not later than; near or at; -- used in expressions of time; as, by this time the sun had risen; he will be here by two o'clock.

    In boxing the compass, by indicates a pint nearer to, or towards, the next cardinal point; as, north by east, i.e., a point towards the east from the north; northeast by east, i.e., on point nearer the east than northeast is.

    * With is used instead of by before the instrument with which anything is done; as, to beat one with a stick; the board was fastened by the carpenter with nails. But there are many words which may be regarded as means or processes, or, figuratively, as instruments; and whether with or by shall be used with them is a matter of arbitrary, and often, of unsettled usage; as, to a reduce a town by famine; to consume stubble with fire; he gained his purpose by flattery; he entertained them with a story; he distressed us with or by a recital of his sufferings. see With.

    By all means, most assuredly; without fail; certainly. -- By and by. (a) Close together (of place). [Obs.] "Two yonge knightes liggyng [lying] by and by." Chaucer. (b) Immediately; at once. [Obs.] "When . . . persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." Matt. xiii. 21. (c) Presently; pretty soon; before long. In this phrase, by seems to be used in the sense of nearness in time, and to be repeated for the sake of emphasis, and thus to be equivalent to "soon, and soon," that is instantly; hence, -- less emphatically, -- pretty soon, presently. -- By one's self, with only one's self near; alone; solitary.- By the bye. See under Bye. -- By the head (Naut.), having the bows lower than the stern; -- said of a vessel when her head is lower in the water than her stern. If her stern is lower, she is by the stern. -- By the lee, the situation of a vessel, going free, when she has fallen off so much as to bring the wind round her stern, and to take her sails aback on the other side. -- By the run, to let go by the run, to let go altogether, instead of slacking off. -- By the way, by the bye; -- used to introduce an incidental or secondary remark or subject. -Day by day, One by one, Piece by piece, etc., each day, each one, each piece, etc., by itself singly or separately; each severally. -- To come by, to get possession of; to obtain. -- To do by, to treat, to behave toward. -- To set by, to value, to esteem. -- To stand by, to aid, to support.

    * The common phrase good-by is equivalent to farewell, and would be better written good-bye, as it is a corruption of God be with you (b'w'ye).

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By

BY, preposition

1. Near; close; as, sit by me; that house stands by a river.

[Latin pressus.]

2. Near, in motion; as, to move, go or pass by a church. But it seems, in other phrases, or with a verb in the past time, to signify past, gone beyond. 'The procession is gone by; ' 'the hour is gone by; ' 'John went by ' We now use past as an equivalent word. The procession is gone past. Gone by is in strictness tautology, as now used; but I apprehend by signifies primarily near.

3. Through, or with, denoting the agent, means, instrument or cause; as, 'a city is destroyed by fire; ' 'profit is made by commerce; ' 'to take by force.' This use answers to that of the Latin per, through, denoting a passing, acting, agency, or instrumentality.

4. 'Day by day; ' 'year by year; ' 'article by article.' In these phrases, by denotes passing from one to another, or each particular separately taken.

5. 'By the space of seven years.' In this phrase, by denotes through, passing or continuing, during.

6. 'By this time, the sun had risen.' The word here seems to denote, at, present or come to.

7. According to; as, 'this appears by his own account; ' 'these are good rules to live by '

8. On; as, 'to pass by land or water; ' 'great battles by sea and land.' In the latter phrase, at or on might be substituted for by

9. It is placed before words denoting quantity, measure or proportion; as, to sell by the pound; to work by the rod or perch; this line is longer by a tenth.

10. It is used to represent the means or instrument of swearing, or affirming; as, to swear by heaven, or by earth; to affirm by all that is sacred.

11. In the phrase, 'he has a cask of wine by him, ' by denotes nearness or presence.

12. 'To sit by one's self, ' is to sit alone, or without company.

13. 'To be present by attorney.' In this phrase, by denotes means or instrument; through or in the presence of a substitute.

14. In the phrase, 'North by West, ' the sense seems to be north passing to the west, inclining or going westward, or near west.

As an adverb, by denotes also nearness, or presence; as, there was no person by at the time. But some noun is understood. So in the phrase, 'to pass or go by ' there is a noun understood.

BY and by is a phrase denoting nearness in time; in a short time after; presently; soon.

When persecution ariseth, because of the word, by and by he is offended. Math.13.

BY the by signifies, as we proceed or pass.

To stand by is to stand near, or to support.

BY in lullaby, and in the nursery, a word used in lulling infants to sleep, is evidently allied to words found in many languages, signifying to rest, or be quiet, or to appease; that is, to press, to stop. [Latin paco.]

BY or bye, in by-law.

In the common phrase, good-bye, bye signifies passing, going. The phrase signifies, a good going, a prosperous passage, and it is precisely equivalent to farewell.

BY is used in many compound words, in most of which we observe the sense of nearness, closeness, or a withdrawing or seclusion.

Why 1828?

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Because in this day of "no absolute truth" words have lost their meaning and we need to retain the foundation for the definitions of words to comprehend their morphology.

— Brenda (Zebulon, NC)

Word of the Day

importance

IMPORT'ANCE, n.

1. Weight; consequence; a bearing on some interest; that quality of any thing by which it may affect a measure, interest or result. The education of youth is of great importance to a free government. A religious education is of infinite importance to every human being.

2. Weight or consequence in the scale of being.

Thy own importance know.

Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.

3. Weight or consequence in self-estimation.

He believes himself a man of importance.

4. Thing implied; matter; subject; importunity. [In these senses, obsolete.]

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