1. Preceding in the order of time; former; antecedent; anterior; previous; as, a prior discovery; prior obligation; -- used elliptically in cases like the following: he lived alone [in the time] prior to his marriage.
2. First, precedent, or superior in the order of cognition, reason or generality, origin, development, rank, etc.
3. earlier in time
4. the head of a religious order; in an abbey the prior is next below the abbot
5. The superior of a priory, and next below an abbot in dignity.