Could you explain to me why the word before is used before the word magistrate..Is it a fixed collocation? Does it mean like " in front of" ?

Five men have been ordered to appear before magistrates following racist taunts...

  • iirc There was a similar question on this. And "before" specifically has a meaning along the lines of "in front of".
    – M.A.R.
    Mar 11, 2015 at 20:18
  • Most dictionaries will tell you that before does indeed have the spatial meaning "in front of, in the presence of", and that it is particularly common in judicial contexts: one comes before a judge, a tribunal, an investigating commission. Mar 11, 2015 at 23:26

2 Answers 2


Yes, it means "in front of" and is a fixed collocation. We appear before (or "stand before") authorities such as magistrates and judges, and it means to stand up in court and be judged. We also (at least many of us believe) that we will appear before God to be judged on our lives after we die.


Yes, it means in front of. The typical court layout will have the judge sitting with his back to a wall and the parties facing him, and any audience behind the parties. Hence the "before" -- the parties are in the "fore" of both the judge and any audience.

adjective 1. situated or placed in front.

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