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

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

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

The preface to your latest edition addresses the problem of truth in the age of Trump. Sean Illing, Vox, "The biggest lie we still teach in American history classes," 1 Aug. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

After recovering from his disconcerting interview with York Powell, Roger Bigelow Merriman went on to publish an indispensable edition of Thomas Cromwell’s surviving letters, prefaced by a much less satisfactory assessment of the man himself. Keith Thomas, The New York Review of Books, "The Power Broker," 17 Jan. 2019 But to preface this ambitious moonshot, Bezos also laid out a convincing argument as to why humanity’s future may no longer be on Earth or any other planetary surface. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "Why the World's Richest Man Wants Humans To Live on Floating Space Cities," 10 May 2019 On Tuesday, the production’s opening night at the Joyce Theater, Mr. Koubi prefaced the performance with a charming speech from the front of the auditorium. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "Review: A Work That Conjures Desert Sands and Whirlwinds," 31 Jan. 2018 Most of the students and parents invited from the Florida school appeared to support Mr. Trump, many of them prefacing their comments with praise for his leadership. Julie Hirschfeld Davis, New York Times, "Parents and Students Plead With Trump: ‘How Many Children Have to Get Shot?’," 21 Feb. 2018 Host Reba McEntire introduced the seven-time-award winner and prefaced that this performance would be a bit different from most. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "Carrie Underwood's Casual ACMs Performance Is Receiving a Lot of Mixed Reactions," 8 Apr. 2019 Two stints at Valentino, one at Ermenegildo Zegna, another at Cerruti, and finally a consultant role alongside Haider Ackermann during his brief but beautiful Berluti chapter prefaced the launch at Pitti Uomo tonight of his own namesake label. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "Valentino and Berluti Alum Aldo Maria Camillo Goes Solo in Florence," 10 Jan. 2019 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

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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Statistics for preface

Last Updated

28 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for preface

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 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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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

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