pro·​le·​gom·​e·​non ˌprō-li-ˈgä-mə-ˌnän How to pronounce prolegomenon (audio)
plural prolegomena ˌprō-li-ˈgä-mə-nə How to pronounce prolegomenon (audio)
: prefatory remarks
specifically : a formal essay or critical discussion serving to introduce and interpret an extended work
prolegomenous adjective

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Prolegomenon is the singular and "prolegomena" is the plural of this scholarly word, though people sometimes mistakenly interpret "prolegomena" as the singular. The word, which comes from the Greek verb prolegein ("to say beforehand"), first appeared in print around 1652. It has appeared in the titles of noteworthy scholarly and philosophical works, but it has never been as common in general use as its older cousin "prologue." "Prologue" usually refers to an introduction to a literary work or to a speech addressed to the audience at the beginning of a play. "Prolegomenon" is most often used of the introduction to a work of scholarly analysis. Both words can also be used in a broader sense to refer generally to something that serves as an introduction.

Word History


Greek, neuter present passive participle of prolegein to say beforehand, from pro- before + legein to say — more at legend

First Known Use

1600, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of prolegomenon was in 1600


Dictionary Entries Near prolegomenon

Cite this Entry

“Prolegomenon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2024.

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