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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


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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
Cottee’s morose preface thus demonstrates the necessity of creating safe communities for ex-Muslims. Darren E. Sherkat, Foreign Affairs, 22 June 2015 There was a specific line in a preface Lyon had written for the 2003 edition of the book that would help Nichols find the fictional film’s focus. Shannon Carlin, TIME, 21 June 2024
It’s prefaced by a scene that brings the season’s central theme into focus. Judy Berman, TIME, 27 June 2024 On June 15, Middleton joined her family for her first public appearance since announcing her diagnosis in March, prefacing her attendance at the King's Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, with an update on her health and a personal message to her supporters on Instagram. Glamour, 16 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for preface 

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 14 Jul. 2024.

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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