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[urst] /ɜrst/
adverb, Archaic.
before the present time; formerly.
Origin of erst
before 1000; Middle English erest, Old English ǣrest (cognate with Old High German ērist, German erst), equivalent to ǣr ere + -est -est1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for erst
Historical Examples
  • Yes, surely you are, I have erst seen that face, and heard that same flippant tongue.

  • The Master said, erst the cold days show how fir and cypress are last to fade.

  • To and fro and up and down in the house went the erst waiting-woman to my Lady Squander, carrying matters with a high hand.

    Audrey Mary Johnston
  • The pipe that erst he fashioned is doubtless scored with rust?

    Theocritus Theocritus
  • Of such I saie therfore as I erst mentioned, we haue first of White hall.

  • Anna did not like her erst fellow-country-man, and she considered that she had good reason for her dislike.

    Good Old Anna Marie Belloc Lowndes
  • Absinthe, erst but a point in the 'personality' he had striven so hard to build up, was solace and necessity now.

    Seven Men Max Beerbohm
  • Tell me, soul-searching ray, if erst I strove To cherish, feed and guard where grew no love.

    Victor Roy, A Masonic Poem Harriet Annie Wilkins
  • Risen eke was Hagen, / who erst unto the ground Was borne by mighty lance-thrust, / prone upon the grass.

  • Yes, she laughed as she sprang upon the erst forbidden window-sill, and out of pure daring sat there.

    Leonore Stubbs L. B. Walford
British Dictionary definitions for erst


adverb (archaic)
long ago; formerly
at first
Word Origin
Old English ǣrest earliest, superlative of ǣr early; see ere; related to Old High German ērist, Dutch eerst
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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