post·​lude ˈpōst-ˌlüd How to pronounce postlude (audio)
: a closing piece of music
especially : an organ voluntary at the end of a church service
: 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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The event is led by Bob Lundy and Elizabeth Yahn Williams with preludes and postludes of pianist Andrew Wong and assisted by artist Marion Wong, illustrator of the HAÏKU for an Artist series. San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 July 2019 The dance now continues and switches gears as sound bites of Ailey and of Mr. Harris present a postlude suggesting them in conversation. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, 12 Dec. 2018 Make a very long weekend of your trip to the Berkshires with three Boston Symphony concerts and, as a postlude on Monday, an evening with the young players of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. New York Times, 12 July 2018 The 14 songs that made up Wednesday’s program were grouped in three sets, with an introduction and postlude, collectively exploring mortal interaction with the gods, the Orestes myth and the deities themselves. John Von Rhein,, 7 Sep. 2017 Perhaps the best thing to do with GWTW is to ask anyone who shows the film to put together a prelude or postlude — or maybe a little presentation for the intermission that is usually provided — that interrogates the film’s presentation of history. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, 30 Aug. 2017 The six postlude concerts next season will be played by Peter Richard Conte. Peter Dobrin,, 7 Aug. 2017 The postlude concerts were studded with some wonderful surprises. Peter Dobrin,, 1 May 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'postlude.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


post- + -lude (as in prelude)

First Known Use

1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of postlude was in 1851


Dictionary Entries Near postlude

Cite this Entry

“Postlude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


post·​lude ˈpōst-ˌlüd How to pronounce postlude (audio)
: a closing piece of music
especially : an organ piece at the end of a church service

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