pref·​ace | \ ˈpre-fəs How to pronounce preface (audio) \

Definition of preface

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 often capitalized : a variable doxology beginning with the Sursum Corda and ending with the Sanctus in traditional eucharistic liturgies
2 : the introductory remarks of a speaker or author


prefaced; prefacing

Definition of preface (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to make introductory remarks

transitive verb

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

Other Words from preface


prefacer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for preface

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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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: Noun While all the texts provide superb insight into the subject, the preface is by François Curiel, who happens to be Chairman of Christie's Europe and the head of Christie's global Luxury division. Kyle Roderick, Forbes, 1 Jan. 2022 After a preface in South Africa in 1902 relieves Orlando of his narratively inconvenient wife, the film skips ahead a dozen years to find Orlando’s now-teenage son, Conrad (Harris Dickinson), chafing against his father’s protective tendencies. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 23 Dec. 2021 This huge book feels like an official production, with its preface by Prokopios Pavlopoulos, a former president of the Hellenic Republic, and its copious illustrations, maps, bibliographies and chronology of events. David Mason, WSJ, 10 Dec. 2021 No amount of gushy preface can break its spell entirely; it’s that powerful, that singular., 4 Nov. 2021 In the preface of my chunky paperback edition, Herbert recalls his grand ambitions. The New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2021 The preface is done, and 82 chapters are yet to be written. David Woods, The Indianapolis Star, 16 Oct. 2021 But the economist Darrick Hamilton, who wrote the preface to the Contract with Black America, has Ice Cube’s ear. Anna Deavere Smith, The New York Review of Books, 5 Nov. 2020 Etulain states as much in the book’s preface, noting that Hatfield’s Senate papers at Willamette University were inaccessible during the author’s research. oregonlive, 26 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Having to preface each joke with a warning label does tend to put a crimp in a stand-up routine. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Nov. 2021 His project wasn’t simply making space for more designers who looked like him, but of rendering useless a framework that sees the need to preface a designer’s work with their identity. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, 30 Nov. 2021 Lewinsky did preface some of her questions with her own thoughts and observations. Lynette Rice,, 9 Nov. 2021 The event will preface a two-part exhibit celebrating American fashion. Glenn Garner,, 11 Aug. 2021 As the meeting began, the candidate expressed a need to preface his remarks with a denunciation of his hosts. Barton Swaim, WSJ, 28 June 2021 Moore tends to preface conversations of anything remotely political or sensitive with some aw-shucks disclaimer. Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone, 8 June 2021 In fact, the world might be a far better place if the phrase were included on every high school and college diploma and preface every HR guideline, management workshop and employment contract. Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2021 Fans responded so fervently that A-REECE decided to preface the sequel with a mixtape, to give himself time to truly perfect his second record. Rianna Turner, Forbes, 10 Apr. 2021

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

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First Known Use of preface


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1619, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for preface


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

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

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Last Updated

26 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Preface.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for preface



English Language Learners Definition of preface

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an introduction to a book or speech



English Language Learners Definition of preface (Entry 2 of 2)

: to introduce (a piece of writing, a speech, a remark, etc.) by writing or saying something


pref·​ace | \ ˈpre-fəs How to pronounce preface (audio) \

Kids Definition of preface

: a section at the beginning that introduces a book or a speech

More from Merriam-Webster on preface

Nglish: Translation of preface for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preface for Arabic Speakers


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