1 of 2


pref·​ace ˈpre-fəs How to pronounce preface (audio)
often capitalized : a variable doxology beginning with the Sursum Corda and ending with the Sanctus in traditional eucharistic liturgies
: the introductory remarks of a speaker or author


2 of 2


prefaced; prefacing

intransitive verb

: to make introductory remarks

transitive verb

: to say or write as preface
a note prefaced to the manuscript
: to introduce by or begin with a preface
: to stand in front of
a porch prefaces the entrance
: to be a preliminary to
prefacer noun

Examples of preface in a Sentence

Noun The book's preface was written by the author. a noted critic has written a short preface to her story to explain some of the historical background
Recent Examples on the Web
With a foreword by Gabriela Hearst and a preface by Edward Enninful, this book is a photographed compilation of her most iconic looks, peppered with personal remembrance notes from the likes of Michael Kors, Tory Burch, and Calvin Klein. The Editors, Town & Country, 6 Sep. 2023 As a preface, three veteran players are not on the Cowboys roster because of a procedural mechanics. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, 29 Aug. 2023 His preface ends with a pair of disembodied eyes, magnified behind the lenses of large glasses. Becca Rothfeld, Washington Post, 13 July 2023 To mark ten years since the book’s publication, an anniversary edition of Difficult Men recently arrived on bookshelves with a new preface that offers a succinct look at just how radically the industry changed in the following years. William Goodman, Men's Health, 23 Aug. 2023 After a brief preface by another employee, a worker identified as Chad can be seen in the video wading ankle-deep into the water towards the waiting Elvis. Mary Walrath-Holdridge, USA TODAY, 1 Aug. 2023 That readers now are likely to come to the novel knowing, either from reviews or the preface, that most of it is autobiographical makes the shock even more acute. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, 11 Aug. 2023 There are real tears that reflect real grief and set the stage for one the darkest American stories of the last few decades. Painkiller, arriving Aug. 10, never approaches the power of those prefaces. Time, 10 Aug. 2023 Celadon soon enlisted David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, to write the preface to its edition. Alexis Gunderson, Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2023
Well, maybe there’s some suspense, because Washington likes to preface his character’s violent outbursts with a slow burn, usually followed by a deadpan sardonic aside. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Aug. 2023 But municipal authorities in a Washington suburb did so Monday to preface a report of cows wandering through the streets. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2023 Hoke’s response was prefaced with praise for SDSU President Adela de la Torre and athletic director John David Wicker. Kirk Kenney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 July 2023 DeSantis, who closed out the first day’s candidate speeches, received headliner treatment during the two-day event, with his remarks preceded by a hype video and an introductory speaker to preface his roughly 40-minute remarks. Isabella Murray, ABC News, 23 June 2023 Dallas Stars coach Pete DeBoer ended his response by saying the words that prefaced it weren’t meant to be a knock against 22-year-old defenseman Nils Lundkvist. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, 14 June 2023 TikTok will, however, preface the results of these searches with a resource center that links out to content about substance abuse (which users can simply scroll beyond). Alexandra Sternlicht, Fortune, 3 June 2023 The concert was prefaced by introductory welcomes and next-season promos that went on too long and were overamplified. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 3 May 2023 The book is prefaced with a family tree, which, at least for the first few chapters, the reader will need to repeatedly consult to keep the many narrative reins straight, for Chin’s book doesn’t adhere to a strictly linear telling. Rhoda Feng, Washington Post, 27 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'preface.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin prephatia, alteration of Latin praefation-, praefatio foreword, from praefari to say beforehand, from prae- pre- + fari to say — more at ban entry 1

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1619, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of preface was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near preface

Cite this Entry

“Preface.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
pref·​ace ˈpref-əs How to pronounce preface (audio)
: a section that introduces a book or a speech


2 of 2 verb
prefaced; prefacing
: to introduce by or begin with a preface
prefaced the talk with a funny story

More from Merriam-Webster on preface

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