- In the neighborhood of; near or next to; not far from; close to; along with; as, come and sit by me." By foundation or by shady rivulet He sought them both." [Milton.]
- On; along; in traversing. Compare 5."Long labors both by sea and land he bore." [Dryden.]" By land, by water, they renew the charge." [Pope.]
- Near to, while passing; hence, from one to the other side of; past; as, to go by a church.
- Used in specifying adjacent dimensions; as, a cabin twenty feet by forty.
- With, as means, way, process, etc.; through means of; with aid of; through; through the act or agency of; as, a city is destroyed by fire; profit is made by commerce; to take by force.
Note: To the meaning of by, as denoting means or agency, belong, more or less closely, most of the following uses of the word: It points out the author and producer; as, “Waverley”, a novel by Sir W.Scott; a statue by Canova; a sonata by Beethoven. In an oath or adjuration, it indicates the being or thing appealed to as sanction; as, I affirm to you by all that is sacred; he swears by his faith as a Christian; no, by Heaven. According to; by direction, authority, or example of; after; -- in such phrases as, it appears by his account; ten o'clock by my watch; to live by rule; a model to build by. At the rate of; according to the ratio or proportion of; in the measure or quantity of; as, to sell cloth by the yard, milk by the quart, eggs by the dozen, meat by the pound; to board by the year. In comparison, it denotes the measure of excess or deficiency; when anything is increased or diminished, it indicates the measure of increase or diminution; as, larger by a half; older by five years; to lessen by a third. It expresses continuance or duration; during the course of; within the period of; as, by day, by night. As soon as; not later than; near or at; -- used in expressions of time; as, by this time the sun had risen; he will be here by two o'clock.
Note: In boxing the compass, by indicates a pint nearer to, or towards, the next cardinal point; as, north by east, i.e., a point towards the east from the north; northeast by east, i.e., on point nearer the east than northeast is.
Note: ☞ With is used instead of by before the instrument with which anything is done; as, to beat one with a stick; the board was fastened by the carpenter with nails. But there are many words which may be regarded as means or processes, or, figuratively, as instruments; and whether with or by shall be used with them is a matter of arbitrary, and often, of unsettled usage; as, to a reduce a town by famine; to consume stubble with fire; he gained his purpose by flattery; he entertained them with a story; he distressed us with or by a recital of his sufferings. see With.
Note: ☞ The common phrase good-by is equivalent to farewell, and would be better written good-bye, as it is a corruption of God be with you b'w'ye).
Etymology: OE. bi, AS. bī big, near to, by, of, from, after, according to; akin to OS. & OFries. bi be, D. bij, OHG. bī, G. bei, Goth. bi, and perh. Gr. 'amfi`. E. prefix be- is orig. the same word. √203. See (pref.) Be-