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American Dictionary of the English Language

Webster's Dictionary 1828

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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.