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

Republicans have held the seat since 1963, and its loss would have been a worrisome preface to the party's presidential and congressional campaigns next year. Author: Alan Fram, Anchorage Daily News, "GOP holds NC House seat but shows weakness in suburbs," 11 Sep. 2019 Trump won the district by 11 percentage points in 2016, and a loss would have been a worrisome preface to the party's campaigns next year. Alan Fram,, "Republican Dan Bishop narrowly wins special election for North Carolina congressional seat that was subject of allegations of ballot tampering last year," 10 Sep. 2019 In the preface to an unfinished volume of his pier photographs, Baltrop confessed that at first, he had been terrified of the piers. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Bronx Exhibition Spotlights Alvin Baltrop, Photographer Who Documented Manhattan’s Underground Queer Community," 21 Aug. 2019 According to the preface of A Course in Miracles, the text can be summed up very simply this way: Nothing real can be threatened. Kayla Bartsch, National Review, "Marianne Williamson Offers Priestly Wisdom for a Nation Adrift — Seriously," 12 Aug. 2019 Under the preface of the city’s human right’s law, which reportedly outlaw’s discrimination on the basis of race, persons found guilty of the offense could face up to $250,000 in penalties. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "California Votes On Bill To Ban Natural Hair Discrimination," 1 July 2019 This history is a preface to a new bill that would eliminate the RICA test for new teachers – reigniting California’s reading wars. Dan Walters, The Mercury News, "Walters: New bill re-ignites California’s reading wars," 30 June 2019 This is a preface to the Rapids match Friday night against the juggernaut that is LAFC. Mark Goodman, The Denver Post, "Backpass: The Rapids are going to “take the L” against LAFC," 28 June 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Arguably one of the best shows of 2019, .Paak’s performance was prefaced by the aforementioned Thundercat. Gail Mitchell, Billboard, "Anderson .Paak Wows L.A. Audience with Happy Homecoming Forum Show," 30 June 2019 Emphasizing those core commonalities should preface discussion about differences. Ann Mongoven, The Mercury News, "Opinion: After two debates, Democratic candidates still unclear on health care reform," 9 Aug. 2019 Several poets prefaced their works with trigger warnings, letting the audience know that their material might be challenging (though the event was free of adult language). Trevor Fraser,, "Poet Blu Bailey organizes youth poetry festival in Orlando," 16 Apr. 2019 Perhaps Winkler can explain away as well why in 1623 his fellow actors chose to preface Shakespeare’s plays with glowing tributes for his words from fellow authors, along with his portrait. James Shapiro, The Atlantic, "Shakespeare Wrote Insightfully About Women. That Doesn’t Mean He Was One.," 8 June 2019 Painted when the artist was in his thirties, the monumental works prefaced Tiepolo’s later Grand Mannerist creations in such far-flung locales as Bavaria and Spain. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "The Frick Revives 18th-Century Frescoes Destroyed During World War II," 3 July 2019 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

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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Statistics for preface

Last Updated

17 Sep 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

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Britannica English: Translation of preface for Arabic Speakers

Comments on preface

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to spread over or through

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