prologue

noun
pro·​logue | \ ˈprō-ˌlȯg How to pronounce prologue (audio) , -ˌläg\
variants: or less commonly prolog

Definition of prologue

1 : the preface or introduction to a literary work
2a : a speech often in verse addressed to the audience by an actor at the beginning of a play
b : the actor speaking such a prologue
3 : an introductory or preceding event or development

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

In ancient Greek drama, the prologos (a word that means basically "speaking before") was the opening portion of the play, before the entry of the all-important chorus. It might be spoken by a single actor, maybe playing a god, who would "set the scene" for the audience. Playwrights today instead often provide the same kind of "scene-setting" information through dialogue near the play's beginning; in movies, it may appear (as in the "Star Wars" series) in the form of actual written text. In a nonfiction book, the lead-in is now usually called a preface or introduction; novels rarely provide any introduction at all. Still, prologue remains a useful word for nonliterary purposes. The saying "The past is prologue" tells us that, in real life, almost everything can be a prologue to what follows it.

Examples of prologue in a Sentence

the prologue to his autobiography unfortunately, the burglary, which he committed while still a teen, was but a prologue to a wasted life of crime

Recent Examples on the Web

The currently popular operatic version is two acts, but with a prologue and epilogue that have the captain reminiscing, in old age, about the terrible things that happened to Billy long ago. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, "Review: A 1951 opera is making a comeback because it’s, you know, a little gay," 21 June 2019 If Davis and James make as good a match on the court as predicted, everything else is prologue. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, "Anthony Davis and LeBron James Are Uniquely Suited to Win," 17 June 2019 Then the opening prologue mission, Hawke’s Bay, was peeled off and given away for free. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: John Wick tactics, a Blood remaster, and a survival-focused Ghost Recon," 10 May 2019 But the first episode, which begins (after a prologue) inside the Chernobyl control room, as technicians try to understand a mysterious explosion outside, creates an excruciating atmosphere of tension and dread. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "HBO’s New Miniseries Chernobyl Will Give You Nightmares," 4 May 2019 Another singer, baritone Edward Nelson, will be part of the prologue, along with actors. Peter Dobrin, Philly.com, "Opera Philadelphia adds a new dimension to 018 festival - an indie film to expand on an opera," 4 June 2018 Past may be prologue, but none of these parallels is perfect. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "What Happens When Bond Markets Get Weird," 3 Jan. 2019 If what’s past is prologue, that means core inflation will take another step up later in 2019 too. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Bigger Gold Companies Still Aren’t Glitterati," 15 Jan. 2019 The play Romeo and Juliet begins, famously, with a prologue that is epilogue — two people have died, and are already buried. Laura Hudson, The Verge, "Why Return of the Obra Dinn is my game of the year," 21 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prologue.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of prologue

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prologue

Middle English prolog, from Anglo-French prologue, from Latin prologus preface to a play, from Greek prologos part of a Greek play preceding the entry of the chorus, from pro- before + legein to speak — more at pro-, legend

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prologue

Statistics for prologue

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prologue

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prologue

prologue

noun

English Language Learners Definition of prologue

: an introduction to a book, play, etc.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on prologue

What made you want to look up prologue? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

providing supplementary assistance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!