Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun post·lude \ˈpōst-ˌlüd\

Definition of postlude

  1. 1 :  a closing piece of music; especially :  an organ voluntary at the end of a church service

  2. 2 :  a closing phase (as of an epoch or a literary work)

Did You Know?

Postlude is the lesser-known counterpart to "prelude" - and in fact, "postlude" was created based on the example of "prelude," substituting "post-" for "pre-." At the root of both terms is the Latin verb ludere ("to play"), and a postlude is essentially "something played afterward." Although "prelude" first appeared in print in the 16th century, "postlude" didn't turn up until 1851. "Prelude" was first used in the general sense of "something preliminary" and only later acquired its musical application, while "postlude" developed in the opposite direction, originating as a musical term before broadening to include other kinds of closings. Both words are also related to "interlude," which can refer, among other things, to a musical composition inserted between the parts of a larger whole.

Origin of postlude

post- + -lude (as in prelude)

First Known Use: 1851

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up postlude? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of perception or understanding

Get Word of the Day daily email!