pref·ace | \ˈpre-fəs \

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

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Other Words from preface


prefacer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for preface

Synonyms: Noun

foreword, intro, introduction, preamble, prelude, prologue (also prolog)

Antonyms: Noun

epilogue (also epilog)

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Examples of preface in a Sentence


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

Many texts weren’t just straight translations, but also included prefaces by notable intellectuals that explained the book’s relevance. Amanda Laugesen, Smithsonian, "This Cold War-Era Publishing House Wanted To Share American Values With the World," 13 July 2018 The royal wedding service started the Right Reverend David Conner reading the preface. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince Harry Gave Meghan Markle the Sweetest Look When their Wedding Reading Mentioned Children," 20 May 2018 The preface by the Dean of Windsor kicks things off. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "See the official program for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding," 18 May 2018 At the other extreme, the exquisite silence of the plates in lavish monographs is sometimes protected by only the slimmest prefaces or afterwords. Geoff Dyer, New York Times, "The Magic of Books Where Photography Meets Essays," 18 Apr. 2018 The line, written as part of Robinson's preface to his autobiography, was penned in 1972. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Colin Kaepernick tweets Jackie Robinson quote on national anthem," 15 Apr. 2018 In the preface, Langlands tells the story of how his strimmer—a motored tool to trim grass—broke. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Does Crafting Make People Happier?," 9 Apr. 2018 Shakespeare's preface framing the shrew-taming comedy as a play within a play is reconceived by Freed. Charles Mcnulty,, "South Coast Rep's 'Shrew!' trips along the rutted road of Shakespearean updates," 2 Apr. 2018 This preface consists of a letter written by a recurring character namedJonas Dryasdust, who recounts a conversation with the character known as the Author of Waverley, Scott’s curmudgeonly alter-ego. Christopher J. Scalia, National Review, "Must Dramatic Art Be Historically Accurate?," 10 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the wake of a particularly lethal week for the Trump administration, this week's episode opened with Anderson Cooper (Alex Moffat) prefacing the firing of Rex Tillerson. Justin Kirkland, USA TODAY, "'SNL' Cold Open Addresses Tillerson Departure with Help from Goodman, Armisen, and Hader," 18 Mar. 2018 Peterson prefaces her statement on benefits of hemp by stating the FDA hasn't agreed with these statements and studies haven't completely been derived from it. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Six things you might be asking about hemp," 13 July 2018 Kraft prefaced her observation with a mention of her respect for President Trump and his office. CBS News, "Pediatric doctor says separating families at border is "a form of child abuse"," 18 June 2018 The game was prefaced by a one-block parade to the field at C.C. Jackson Recreation Center. Sarah Meehan,, "Park Heights Black Sox team gives city youth a turn at bat for sports, inspiration," 26 May 2018 Brennan prefaces each installment with an instrumental recording, a tongue-in-cheek cover of the country’s top pop song from the week of the incident featured in the episode. James Sullivan,, "Welcome to ‘Disgraceland,’ where music and true crime meet," 3 May 2018 For the two authors, this uncertainty prefaces their protagonists’ mental breakdowns. Kelly Coyne, The Atlantic, "The Literary Insights of Sylvia Plath’s College Thesis," 22 May 2018 Previous criticism of the series focused on season one's portrayal of Hannah's death; in March, Netflix announced each episode would be prefaced by a trigger warning. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, ""13 Reasons Why" Viewers Are Analyzing Season 2 Trailers for Clues," 1 May 2018 Pioneers coach Megan Conklin prefaced her comments about Paterno by noting that every ACL injury is different, and every recovery is different. Chris Melchiorre,, "Clearview's Dani Paterno returns from ACL injury with a lacrosse mission," 13 Apr. 2018

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

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

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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 \

Kids Definition of preface

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on preface

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for preface

Spanish Central: Translation of preface

Nglish: Translation of preface for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preface for Arabic Speakers

Comments on preface

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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