1) ADV-GRADED: ADV after v Early means before the usual time that a particular event or activity happens.

I knew I had to get up early...

Why do we have to go to bed so early?

Early is also an adjective.

I decided that I was going to take early retirement... I planned an early night.

2) ADJ-GRADED: ADJ n Early means near the beginning of a day, week, year, or other period of time.

...in the 1970s and the early 1980s.

...a few weeks in early summer...

She was in her early teens.

...the early hours of Saturday morning.

ADV-GRADED: ADV with cl, ADV n/prep
Early is also an adverb.

We'll hope to see you some time early next week. ...early in the season.

3) ADV-GRADED: ADV after v Early means before the time that was arranged or expected.

She arrived early to secure a place at the front...

The first snow came a month earlier than usual.

Early is also an adjective.

I'm always early.

4) ADJ-GRADED: ADJ n Early means near the beginning of a period in history, or in the history of something such as the world, a society, or an activity.

...the early stages of pregnancy.

...Fassbinder's early films.

...the early days of the occupation...

It's too early to declare his efforts a success.

5) ADJ-GRADED: ADJ n Early means near the beginning of something such as a piece of work or a process.

...the book's early chapters.

ADV-GRADED: ADV with cl, ADV prep
Early is also an adverb.

...an incident which occurred much earlier in the game.

6) ADJ-GRADED: ADJ n Early refers to plants which flower or crop before or at the beginning of the main season.

...these early cabbages and cauliflowers.

Early is also an adverb.

This early flowering gladiolus is not very hardy.

7) ADJ-GRADED: ADJ n Early reports or indications of something are the first reports or indications about it. [FORMAL]

The early indications look encouraging...

Earlier reports that troops opened fire are now being denied.

8) PHRASE: PHR n (emphasis) You can use as early as to emphasize that a particular time or period is surprisingly early.

Inflation could fall back into single figures as early as this month.

...as early as 1838.

9) PHRASE: V inflects If you say about something that might be true that it is early days, you mean that it is too soon for you to be completely sure about it. [INFORMAL]

The chances of Francis eventually becoming manager of England are perhaps higher. It is early days, of course, and he has yet to win anything.

English dictionary. 2008.

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  • Early — Early, IA U.S. city in Iowa Population (2000): 605 Housing Units (2000): 293 Land area (2000): 0.394821 sq. miles (1.022582 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.394821 sq. miles (1.022582 sq. km)… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

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  • early on — is first recorded in BrE in 1928 and only later in AmE. It is a kind of back formation from earlier on, itself modelled on later on (first recorded 1822). Early on and earlier on are both now common in both BrE and AmE: • The BBC recognised early …   Modern English usage

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