pre·​pos·​ter·​ous pri-ˈpä-st(ə-)rəs How to pronounce preposterous (audio)
: contrary to nature, reason, or common sense : absurd
preposterously adverb
preposterousness noun

Examples of preposterous in a Sentence

The whole idea is preposterous! the idea that extraterrestrials built the pyramids is preposterous
Recent Examples on the Web Their preposterous width was a boon for dune running, and the spare tire on the back of this one is an original sand tire, with a broad lip around the bead to increase the footprint even more when it's aired down. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 4 Sep. 2023 But perhaps an even more preposterous claim from Yaccarino came when Eisen pressed her on brand safety and hate speech appearing on the platform since Musk’s takeover. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 10 Aug. 2023 Indeed, Nolan’s implication that using an old-fashioned dolly or a pair of shoulders to move the camera around rendered his method untainted in some way is preposterous. Hazlitt, 9 Aug. 2023 So the fact that Mark Cuban Companies chief of staff Jason Lutin spent weeks trying to get Kilgore to consider taking on the case of Elbert Smith Jr., father of then-Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, seemed preposterous. Brad Townsend, Dallas News, 28 July 2023 His expansive collection of ominous, preposterous and saintly characters twirls like loose sticks in a river, guided by a physics of chaos beyond all calculation except awe. Ron Charles, Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2023 This hilarious comedy of epically preposterous proportions will have you on the edge of your seat––or falling out of it––with laughter! Utah Shakespeare, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 July 2023 Meanwhile, Byers, the relentless Puck scribe known for breaking news about CNN, who was unfairly maligned as a Zucker shill in Siegel’s story, reported Wednesday night that the opening anecdote — which struck many observers as preposterous — was simply false. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 27 July 2023 This hilarious comedy of epically preposterous proportions will have you on the edge of your seat– or falling out of it with laughter! The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'preposterous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin praeposterus, literally, in the wrong order, from prae- + posterus hinder, following — more at posterior

First Known Use

1533, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of preposterous was in 1533

Dictionary Entries Near preposterous

Cite this Entry

“Preposterous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​pos·​ter·​ous pri-ˈpäs-t(ə-)rəs How to pronounce preposterous (audio)
: making little or no sense : absurd
preposterously adverb
preposterousness noun

from Latin praeposterus, literally, "having the rear part in front," from prae- "in front, before" and posterus "coming behind, following"

Word Origin
The familiar expression "putting the cart before the horse" comes very close to the literal sense of the word preposterous. The Romans formed their Latin adjective praeposterus from prae-, meaning "before," and posterus, meaning "following." They at first used it to mean "having that first which ought to be last," like having a cart ahead of the horse that is pulling it. Praeposterus was used to describe something that was out of the normal or logical order or position. From this developed the more general sense of "ridiculous, absurd." These meanings were borrowed into English in the 16th century. Although preposterous is seldom used in its literal sense nowadays, we still use it to describe something that seems so unreasonable as to be ridiculous.

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