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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from preface


prefacer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for preface

Synonyms: Noun

exordium, foreword, intro, introduction, preamble, prelude, proem, prologue (also prolog), prolusion

Antonyms: Noun

epilogue (also epilog)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Although brief, the prefaces of the first two editions and an errata page are written in a distinctive (and often complaining) voice. Keith Stavely And Kathleen Fitzgerald, Smithsonian, "What America’s First Cookbook Says About Our Country and Its Cuisine," 12 Jan. 2018 Not only Southern children—but adults as well—use the preface ma’am or sir when speaking to someone older or in authority. Tinsley Mortimer, Town & Country, "19 Southern Sayings and Phrases Explained," 8 Aug. 2018 One soon comes to realize that the book’s title and preface are window dressing for what is, in essence, a Cook’s tour of European civilization from Greek antiquity to the end of the Renaissance. James Romm, WSJ, "‘Know Thyself’ Review: The Evolution of a Culture," 10 June 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The music legend prefaced her headlining performance with a moving video montage including broadcast news clips about racial violence, white supremacy, and terrorism. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Janet Jackson Calls Out Racial Injustice and White Supremacy Onstage in NYC," 30 July 2018 As prefaced earlier, Abloh’s last-season impact for Louis Vuitton immediately confirmed him as the most influential artistic director in menswear today. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "6 Talking Points From the Fall 2019 Menswear Season to Come Inspired by Virgil... (Not the Virgil that You’re Thinking Of)," 3 Jan. 2019 And that knowing musical number prefaces the film’s most clever meta twist. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Ralph Breaks the Internet is The Lego Movie of Disney films," 14 Nov. 2018 Anna Wintour prefaced in this video—think being the operative word. Emily Farra, Vogue, "“Everything Is for Everybody”: Anna Wintour Shares Her Top Takeaways From Paris Fashion Week," 4 Oct. 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about preface

Statistics for preface

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for preface

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


likely to have or produce good results

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!