preterit

adjective
pret·​er·​it | \ ˈpre-tə-rət How to pronounce preterit (audio) \
variants: or preterite

Definition of preterit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

archaic

preterit

noun
variants: or preterite

Definition of preterit (Entry 2 of 2)

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Noun

The original form of this word, which dates to Middle English, has no final "e," but preterite, as it appears in our second example, is another accepted styling of the word. Like many technical linguistic terms, preterit is ultimately Latin in origin: it comes from praeter, meaning "beyond, past, by." (This meaning is also apparent in the now-archaic adjectival use of preterit to mean "bygone" or "former.") Another word from praeter is preternatural, from the Latin phrase praeter naturam, meaning "beyond nature." That word is typically used to describe what is so unusual or extraordinary as to seem outside of what can be accounted for by nature.

First Known Use of preterit

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for preterit

Adjective

Middle English preterit, from Anglo-French, from Latin praeteritus, from past participle of praeterire to go by, pass, from praeter beyond, past, by (from comparative of prae before) + ire to go — more at for, issue entry 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near preterit

preterist

preterit

preterital

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Cite this Entry

“Preterit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/preterit. Accessed 7 Jul. 2022.

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