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[soo-ner] /ˈsu nər/
a person who settles on government land before it is legally opened to settlers in order to gain the choice of location.
a person who gains an unfair advantage by getting ahead of others.
Origin of sooner
1885-90, Americanism; soon + -er1


[soo-ner] /ˈsu nər/
a native or inhabitant of Oklahoma (the Sooner State, ) (used as a nickname).


[soon] /sun/
adverb, sooner, soonest.
within a short period after this or that time, event, etc.:
We shall know soon after he calls.
before long; in the near future; at an early date:
Let's leave soon.
promptly or quickly:
He came as soon as he could.
readily or willingly:
I would as soon walk as ride.
early in a period of time; before the time specified is much advanced:
soon at night; soon in the evening.
Obsolete. immediately; at once; forthwith.
sooner or later, eventually:
Sooner or later his luck will run out.
would sooner, to prefer to:
I would sooner not go to their party.
Compare rather (def 9).
before 900; Middle English; Old English sōna; cognate with Old High German sān, Gothic suns
Can be confused
currently, immediately, momentarily, now, presently, soon (see synonym study at immediately; see usage note at presently) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for sooner
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I said if that was her idear of a joke, the quicker we parted the sooner.

  • I know about what you want and you'll have to approach me sooner or later, so let's get done with it.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • He had no sooner taken his seat than Collins rose at the bar.

  • I am not afraid of Mrs Howell; and we shall have to encounter her again, sooner or later.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • The sooner we collect the sooner we'll hear what's on your mind.

    Marjorie Dean Pauline Lester
British Dictionary definitions for sooner


the comparative of soon he came sooner than I thought
rather; in preference: I'd sooner die than give up
no sooner…than, immediately after or when: no sooner had he got home than the rain stopped, no sooner said than done
sooner or later, eventually; inevitably
Usage note
When is sometimes used instead of than after no sooner, but this use is generally regarded as incorrect: no sooner had he arrived than (not when) the telephone rang


in or after a short time; in a little while; before long: the doctor will soon be here
as soon as, at the very moment that: she burst into tears as soon as she saw him
as soon…as, used to indicate that the second alternative mentioned is not preferable to the first: I'd just as soon go by train as drive
Word Origin
Old English sōna; related to Old High German sāno, Gothic suns
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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Word Origin and History for sooner



Old English sona "at once, immediately, directly, forthwith," from West Germanic *sæno (cf. Old Frisian son, Old Saxon sana, Old High German san, Gothic suns "soon"). Sense softened early Middle English to "within a short time" (cf. anon). American English. Sooner for "Oklahoma native" is 1930 (earlier "one who acts prematurely," 1889), from the 1889 opening to whites of what was then part of Indian Territory, when many would-be settlers sneaked onto public land and staked their claims "sooner" than the legal date and time.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for sooner

son of a bitch


An exclamation of anger, annoyance, amazement, disappointment, etc: Son of a bitch! The thing's busted again!

n phr,n

  1. A despicable person; bastard, shitheel: I told the son of a bitch what I thought of him (entry form 1707+, variants 1975+; gun 1786+)
  2. Something very difficult or vexatious, esp a hard task: Getting that thing fitted was a son of a bitch
  3. A person or thing that is remarkable, wonderful, superior, etc; bitch: Their new album is a son of a bitch, I tell you/ a big son of a buck

[the son of a gun variant was said by Admiral Smythe to have been ''originally applied to boys born afloat,'' at a time when women could accompany men to sea, and when children could be born and cradled under a gun or gun carriage, hence have no proper legitimate parentage]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with sooner
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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