near the beginning of a period of time, an event etc.
the early morning
my earliest memories
The project is still in the early stages.
the early 1990s
in the early days of space exploration (= when it was just beginning)
The earliest possible date I can make it is the third.
He's in his early twenties.
Mozart's early works (= those written at the beginning of his career)
Early booking is essential, as space is limited.
arriving, or done before the usual, expected or planned time
You're early! I wasn't expecting you till seven.
The bus was ten minutes early.
an early breakfast
Let's make an early start tomorrow.
She's an early riser (= she gets up early in the morning) .
He learnt to play the piano at an early age .
early potatoes (= that are ready to eat at the beginning of the season)
a person who gets up, arrives, etc. very early
as soon as possible
Please telephone at your earliest convenience.
the person who takes the opportunity to do sth before other people will have an advantage over them
used to say that it is too soon to be sure how a situation will develop
very early in the morning
You're up bright and early today!
the period of time very early in the morning, soon after midnight
We worked well into the small hours.
The fighting began in the early hours of Saturday morning.
near the beginning of a period of time, an event, a piece of work, etc.
early in the week/year/season/morning
The best rooms go to those who book earliest.
We arrived early the next day.
He started writing music as early as 1989.
before the usual, expected or planned time
The bus came five minutes early.
I woke up early this morning.
The baby arrived earlier than expected.
before the present time or the time mentioned
As I mentioned earlier…
a week earlier
She had seen him earlier in the day.
at an early stage of a situation, relationship, period of time, etc.
I knew quite early on that I wanted to marry her.