pre·​req·​ui·​site (ˌ)prē-ˈre-kwə-zət How to pronounce prerequisite (audio)
: something that is necessary to an end or to the carrying out of a function
prerequisite adjective

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Prerequisite is partly based on requirere, the Latin verb meaning "to need or require". So a prerequisite can be anything that must be accomplished or acquired before something else can be done. Possessing a valid credit card is a prerequisite for renting a car. A physical exam may be a prerequisite for receiving a life-insurance policy. And successful completion of an introductory course is often a prerequisite for enrolling in a higher-level course.

Examples of prerequisite in a Sentence

Future greatness does not always inspire popularity. Coolness, in the high-school or hip sense of the word, is not a prerequisite for leadership. Evan Thomas, Newsweek, 2 Aug. 2004
… opposition to the totalitarian threat was the prerequisite for membership in American liberalism because communism was the defining moral challenge of the age. Peter Beinart, New Republic, 13 Dec. 2004
But old-school Andy lacks a skill that may soon be a prerequisite for 21st-century detective work: knowing how to glean secrets from a suspect's hard drive. Daniel McGinn, Newsweek, 23 Sept. 2002
Recent Examples on the Web In fact, technological progress is a prerequisite for companies seeking to meet ambitious climate goals. Jeff Boudreau, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 Like YouTube and brand ambassadorship, boxing is a good platform for languishing in a state of demi-celebrity, where neither elite talent nor ethics is a prerequisite. Brady Brickner-Wood, New York Times, 11 Oct. 2023 Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced that Tesla would begin to do the same in the US as a prerequisite to tap into some of the $7.5 billion for EV charging in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, 5 Oct. 2023 That should act as a reminder that stress is not a prerequisite. Meghan Rose, Glamour, 1 Oct. 2023 After all, madness as a prerequisite to entry into a world of unrelenting mistreatment isn’t exactly exclusive to 19th-century asylums. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2023 No bills establishing genetic testing as a prerequisite were even put forth by lawmakers this year in any of those states, according to searches of the legislative tracking website LegiScan. Joedy McCreary, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2023 Against the backdrop of the service pricing adjustments, the procurement of tax credits effectively subsidizing movies and TV shows has essentially become a prerequisite for getting a project greenlit. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 Oct. 2023 But proper comportment should not be a prerequisite for human dignity. Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, 29 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1631, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of prerequisite was circa 1631

Dictionary Entries Near prerequisite

Cite this Entry

“Prerequisite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pre·​req·​ui·​site (ˈ)prē-ˈrek-wə-zət How to pronounce prerequisite (audio)
: something required beforehand or necessary as preparation for something else
the course is a prerequisite for advanced study
prerequisite adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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