prelude

noun
pre·​lude | \ ˈprel-ˌyüd How to pronounce prelude (audio) , ˈprāl-; ˈpre-ˌlüd, ˈprā-; sense 1 also ˈprē-ˌlüd How to pronounce prelude (audio) \

Definition of prelude

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an introductory performance, action, or event preceding and preparing for the principal or a more important matter
2a : a musical section or movement introducing the theme or chief subject (as of a fugue or suite) or serving as an introduction to an opera or oratorio
b : an opening voluntary
c : a separate concert piece usually for piano or orchestra and based entirely on a short motif

prelude

verb
preluded; preluding

Definition of prelude (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to serve as a prelude to
2 : to play as a prelude

intransitive verb

: to give or serve as a prelude especially : to play a musical introduction

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Other Words from prelude

Verb

preluder noun

Examples of prelude in a Sentence

Noun

an eruption of sectarian violence that proved to be the prelude to all-out civil war the musical had a brief prelude to get the audience in the proper mood

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Even Drest’s disobedience feels like the prelude to her proving that fathers shouldn’t underestimate their daughters. Soman Chainani, New York Times, "Young Heroines Who Are Saviors, but Not Saints," 27 Mar. 2018 That was evident at halftime, when FSU led, 41–32, and its advantage seemed potentially like a prelude to a Gonzaga comeback. Greg Bishop, SI.com, "Florida State Continues Theme of the Tournament, Knocks Off Gonzaga to Reach Elite Eight," 23 Mar. 2018 America’s Foreign Agent Registration Act has been around since 1938, when it was passed to flush out Nazi agents in the prelude to World War II. Evan Halper, latimes.com, "Is that environmental group a pawn of Beijing? Nonprofits wary of being branded 'foreign agents'," 14 June 2018 The prelude to Diaz’s trip here was its own mini-adventure. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "A Sombrero and a Dream: One Desperate Fan’s World Cup Odyssey," 25 June 2018 Since this small-club prelude to a tour of festivals and big theaters was being taped for radio broadcast, she could be forgiven for ranking pristine sound above the comfort of fans who had filled the house to capacity. John Defore, Billboard, "Neko Case Delivers Powerful Set Through Inconsistent Climes at Brooklyn's Littlefield: Recap," 24 May 2018 The array of massive women’s marches in January 2017, primarily a backlash to Donald Trump’s election as president, served as prelude to the #MeToo movement, which caught fire in October and continues to this day. David Crary, BostonGlobe.com, "Student protests reflect growing trend of Americans embracing activism," 24 Mar. 2018 This is what the prelude to a financial crisis looks like, historically speaking. David Dayen, New Republic, "The Source of the Next Recession," 20 Feb. 2018 Enter the Old City and descend to the Kotel (Western Wall) to watch the Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming of the Sabbath) service, a meaningful prelude to the day of rest at Judaism's holiest site. Joe Yudin, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to Israel," 5 Oct. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In a move that was expected and could prelude further transactions, the Bulls on Thursday announced the team waived guard Sean Kilpatrick. Malika Andrews, chicagotribune.com, "Bulls waive guard Sean Kilpatick," 12 July 2018 Wildfires raged on two ends of California Saturday, killing one person, destroying scores of homes and reminding residents of last year’s historic destruction, if not preluding a repeat. Avi Selk, Washington Post, "One dead as wildfires burn on both ends of California," 7 July 2018 Stephen Loveridge’s documentary, Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., appears to start filling in that script, preluding the Grammys performance with footage of the rapper and producer’s breezy home life in Los Angeles. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Listening to M.I.A., Finally," 30 Mar. 2018 Italy, meanwhile, have not secured a victory since October, where their 1-0 win over Albania preluded Gli Azzurri's World Cup play-off defeat at the hands of Sweden the following month. SI.com, "England vs Italy Preview: Recent Form, Team News, Prediction & More," 26 Mar. 2018 The 6-3 vote for the contract exposed the ongoing riff between the board that was temporarily patched on March 5 when the board voted unanimously to hire Brumley, despite the contentious debate that preluded the approval. Littice Bacon-blood, NOLA.com, "New Jefferson schools superintendent $269,000 salary approved," 13 Mar. 2018 Such steps are typically preludes to a board fight, which Elliott has until March to launch for Hess’s 2018 annual meeting. David Benoit And Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Elliott Preps for Potential Fight With Hess, Seeking CEO Ouster," 14 Dec. 2017 The Saints have got this season's Premier League campaign off to a solid start, with a goalless draw to a gritty West Bromwich Albion preluding their 3-2 victory over West Ham last Saturday. SI.com, "Southampton Striker Charlie Austin Rejoices in Strong Return to Form Following Long-Term Injury," 21 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prelude.' 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 prelude

Noun

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1632, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for prelude

Noun

Middle French, from Medieval Latin praeludium, from Latin praeludere to play beforehand, from prae- + ludere to play — more at ludicrous

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Statistics for prelude

Last Updated

10 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prelude

The first known use of prelude was in 1561

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More Definitions for prelude

prelude

noun

English Language Learners Definition of prelude

: something that comes before and leads to something else
: a short piece of music that introduces a longer piece

prelude

noun
pre·​lude | \ ˈprel-ˌyüd How to pronounce prelude (audio) , ˈprā-ˌlüd\

Kids Definition of prelude

1 : something that comes before and prepares for the main or more important parts
2 : a short piece of music played at the beginning of something (as an opera or church service)

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Comments on prelude

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