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 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 Bram Stoker’s original manuscript of Dracula included a preface that was cut before the novel was published in 1897. Oscar Urbiola, National Geographic, "How did 18th-century vampire hunters identify the undead? Blood and fingernails," 29 Oct. 2019 Simon’s book had a dissenting preface by his widow, Rita Simon, who was uncomfortable with the positive terms in which her husband had described the twentieth century. Anthony Gottlieb, The New York Review of Books, "Accentuate the Positive," 7 Feb. 2019 Schiff wrote in the preface of the 300-page report that Mr. Trump not only compromised American national security by withholding aid to Ukraine but also obstructed justice in his opposition to the inquiry. CBS News, "Schiff says impeachment inquiry is "not about Ukraine," but about protecting U.S. democracy," 3 Dec. 2019 Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of the OECD, said in the latest report's preface that the performance of the four Chinese regions was impressive, as their income levels were below the OECD average. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "Teens from China's wealthiest regions rank top of the class in global education survey," 3 Dec. 2019 In her brief preface, Callahan reminds readers that serial killing is the rarest of all forms of murder. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "‘American Predator’ is a chilling, meticulous look into the life of serial killer Israel Keyes," 12 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 All the authors preface their stories with brief appreciations of Greene and his publishing house. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, "Something to celebrate: Four literary gems that have survived the vagaries of publishing," 2 Oct. 2019 This year, Amazon prefaced Prime Day with a live concert June 10 starring Taylor Swift. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, "Amazon: Prime Day sales were bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined," 17 July 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for preface

Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Preface.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 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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Britannica English: Translation of preface for Arabic Speakers

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