The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
By \By\ (b[imac]), prep. [OE. bi, AS. b[imac], big, near to, by,
of, from, after, according to; akin to OS. & OFries. bi, be,
D. bij, OHG. b[imac], G. bei, Goth. bi, and perh. Gr. 'amfi`.
E. prefix be- is orig. the same word. [root]203. See pref.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Near to, while passing; hence, from one to the other side
of; past; as, to go by a church.
4. Used in specifying adjacent dimensions; as, a cabin twenty
feet by forty.
5. Against. [Obs.] --Tyndale [1. Cor. iv. 4].
6. 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
Note: To the meaning of by, as denoting means or agency,
belong, more or less closely, most of the following
uses of the word:
(a) It points out the author and producer; as, "Waverley",
a novel by Sir W.Scott; a statue by Canova; a sonata
(b) 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.
(c) 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.
(d) 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.
(e) 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.
(f) It expresses continuance or duration; during the
course of; within the period of; as, by day, by night.
(g) 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
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.
By all means, most assuredly; without fail; certainly.
By and by.
(a) Close together (of place). [Obs.] "Two yonge knightes
liggyng [lying] by and by." --Chaucer.
(b) Immediately; at once. [Obs.] "When . . . persecution
ariseth because of the word, by and by he is
offended." --Matt. xiii. 21.
(c) Presently; pretty soon; before long.
Note: In this phrase, by seems to be used in the sense of
nearness in time, and to be repeated for the sake of
emphasis, and thus to be equivalent to "soon, and
soon," that is instantly; hence, -- less emphatically,
-- pretty soon, presently.
By one's self, with only one's self near; alone; solitary.
By the bye. See under Bye.
By the head (Naut.), having the bows lower than the stern;
-- said of a vessel when her head is lower in the water
than her stern. If her stern is lower, she is by the
By the lee, the situation of a vessel, going free, when she
has fallen off so much as to bring the wind round her
stern, and to take her sails aback on the other side.
By the run, to let go by the run, to let go altogether,
instead of slacking off.
By the way, by the bye; -- used to introduce an incidental
or secondary remark or subject.
Day by day, One by one, Piece by piece, etc., each day,
each one, each piece, etc., by itself singly or
separately; each severally.
To come by, to get possession of; to obtain.
To do by, to treat, to behave toward.
To set by, to value, to esteem.
To stand by, to aid, to support.
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).