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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce erstwhile (audio)

Dictionary definition of erstwhile

Formerly or previously in a specific state, position, or condition.
"The erstwhile champion was dethroned by a new rising star."

Detailed meaning of erstwhile

It implies that the subject was once but is no longer in that particular state or role. The term is often used to indicate that something or someone had a past existence or held a previous status that has since changed or ceased to be. Erstwhile can convey a sense of nostalgia, indicating that the subject was once significant, relevant, or prominent, but now belongs to the past. It can also imply a sense of transience or the passing of time. Overall, the adjective erstwhile serves to highlight the shift or transition from a previous state to a current one, emphasizing the contrast or evolution that has taken place.

Example sentences containing erstwhile

1. The old building was the headquarters of the erstwhile powerful trading company.
2. He met with his erstwhile friend, with whom he hadn't spoken in years.
3. The exhibit featured artifacts from the erstwhile kingdom that once ruled the region.
4. The property was owned by an erstwhile noble family that fell into obscurity.
5. The journalist interviewed the erstwhile mayor about the city's historical challenges.
6. The ruins were a reminder of the erstwhile glory of the ancient civilization.

History and etymology of erstwhile

The word 'erstwhile' has an interesting etymology. It originates from the Middle English term 'erstwhile,' which is a combination of two Old English words: 'ǣr,' meaning 'before,' and 'hwīl,' meaning 'time' or 'while.' In essence, 'erstwhile' can be traced back to the Old English phrase 'ǣr hwīl,' which denoted a specific point in time in the past. Over time, these words evolved and merged into the single term 'erstwhile,' which now signifies something that existed or occurred in a former or previous state, position, or condition. This etymology highlights how language evolves, as it has transformed from its Old English roots into the contemporary adjective we use today.

Quiz: Find the meaning of erstwhile

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Further usage examples of erstwhile

1. The reunion brought together erstwhile classmates who shared stories of their school days.
2. The erstwhile fishing village had grown into a bustling coastal city.
3. She found some photographs of her parents in their erstwhile youthful days.
4. The erstwhile dictator’s palace is now a museum dedicated to the history of the nation.
5. They are working to restore the lighthouse to its erstwhile magnificence.
6. The book delves into the life of the erstwhile actress who left Hollywood at the peak of her career.
7. The documentary focused on the erstwhile Soviet Union and the events leading to its collapse.
8. The erstwhile soldier found peace by dedicating his life to humanitarian work.
9. The town's erstwhile mining industry is commemorated in a small local museum.
10. The erstwhile champion returned to reclaim his title with determination.
11. She revisited her erstwhile hometown, flooded with nostalgic memories.
12. The company's profits have plummeted compared to their erstwhile success.
13. His erstwhile allies turned against him when he needed them most.
14. The mansion, now in ruins, was once the erstwhile symbol of opulence.
15. The road, once bustling with traffic, now lay deserted and eerily quiet.
16. The erstwhile partners parted ways due to irreconcilable differences.
17. The team struggled to recapture their erstwhile winning streak.
18. The cityscape had transformed since her erstwhile visit as a child.
19. The erstwhile undisputed leader faced a challenge to his authority.
20. The erstwhile popular restaurant had lost its charm over the years.
21. The castle's erstwhile grandeur was evident in its crumbling walls.
22. The actor's erstwhile fame had faded, leaving him in obscurity.
23. She gazed at the erstwhile love letters, a bittersweet reminder of the past.
24. The town's erstwhile prosperity had waned with the closure of the mine.
25. The journalist uncovered the secrets of the erstwhile political regime.
26. The factory, once a hub of activity, now stood as an erstwhile relic.
27. The garden, overgrown and neglected, bore little resemblance to its erstwhile beauty.
28. The company aimed to revive its erstwhile reputation through innovation.
29. He sought to rebuild his erstwhile career after a period of setbacks.



former, current, present, existing


High School 20, SAT 16 (Scholastic Assessment Test), History and Nostalgia

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