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

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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 All this, however, is nothing but turbulent preface. Rana Dasgupta, Harper's Magazine, "The Silenced Majority," 24 Nov. 2020 Now, as an important preface, this is not to suggest a trade involving Cooper is imminent or developing. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, "Cowboys not willing to deal WR Michael Gallup ahead of NFL trade deadline," 29 Oct. 2020 Mulan as a child is played charmingly by Crystal Rao in a preface that quivers with Disney didacticism. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Mulan’ Review: Woman Warrior Redux," 3 Sep. 2020 News of the preface comes the same day that former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor, who served under Trump for two years, endorsed Biden. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "'Anonymous' Trump official calls for president to be voted out in new preface to book," 17 Aug. 2020 This all happens in a preface, in prose as practical as a drug pamphlet. Christian Wiman, Harper's magazine, "The Cancer Chair," 20 Jan. 2020 Interestingly enough, the Shakespeare character is referenced in the preface to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey — and Dorian is a character on Chilling Adventures too. Leah Marilla Thomas,, "Everything You Need To Know About Caliban From Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina," 24 Jan. 2020 Her silver medal in team pursuit at the 2016 Olympics was mere preface. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana's Olympic athlete of the decade: The winner might surprise you," 30 Dec. 2019 For a digital version of the report’s preface and executive summary, as well as a link to the full report pdf, click here. NBC News, "Bonus: The Report," 3 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Multicolored ruminations in the slow movement and ensuing cadenza preface the finale’s explosion of hip-shifting rhythms echoing Argentine folk music. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "A most enjoyable Dallas Symphony concert," 25 Sep. 2020 No need to preface your questions with a lead-in or even worse, your own opinion. Mary Kate Cary, The Conversation, "Lessons on wrangling candidates from the masterful moderator of presidential debates, Jim Lehrer," 12 Mar. 2020 That prefaced a summer in which Apple, 22, won five gold medals at the World University Games and three relay medals at worlds. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "David Woods' top Indiana Olympic athletes for 2019 in pro, college and high school," 21 Jan. 2020 Linebacker Jordan Glasgow was the final player asked about Tuesday's news, and prefaced his initial response by giving thanks for his comfortable financial situation. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football players comment on proposed NCAA rule changes," 30 Oct. 2019 That suffering would be empty without the love that prefaces it, and there Diehl and Pachner also make Franz and Frani shine as two bright souls entwined. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "‘A Hidden Life’ a sublime moral meditation from Terrence Malick," 19 Dec. 2019 Each chapter presents articles, judicial opinions, and speeches by Gorsuch on a common theme, prefaced by a brief overview. Sherif Girgis, National Review, "Neil Gorsuch’s Judicial Humility," 5 Dec. 2019 Previously, emergency was more often prefaced with words like health, hospital or family while climate virtually never made a pairing. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "“Climate Emergency” Is Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year 2019," 21 Nov. 2019 Months of research and community meetings prefaced the report. Laura A. Hobson,, "Loveland strategic plan would add parking, a quiet zone and more housing and business," 21 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for preface

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

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Statistics for preface

Last Updated

3 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Preface.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for preface


How to pronounce preface (audio)

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

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