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

As a brief scene-setting prologue showing Banks watching kids playing football underlines, skill on the football field has always signified freedom to him, the feeling that nothing could fence him in or keep him down. Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Aldis Hodge shines in ‘Brian Banks’ as a man fighting to clear his name," 8 Aug. 2019 As a brief scene-setting prologue showing Banks watching kids playing football underlines, skill on the football field has always signified freedom to him, the feeling that nothing could fence him in or keep him down. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Aldis Hodge shines in ‘Brian Banks’ as a man fighting to clear his name," 8 Aug. 2019 The occasionally juicy anecdotes involving the swarm of Millennial cultural revolutionaries who convinced their elders to serve him up in sacrifice to the hivemind are absorbing, but they are relegated to the prologue. Noah Rothman, National Review, "Kevin Williamson’s Revolt against the Hivemind," 25 July 2019 The prologue packs some power in its own right as a reminder of the many people for whom our society has failed, but the connection to the play is never really made. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, "Review: ‘Macbeth’ in SF gets stunning update, with mixed results," 19 July 2019 Aster’s prologue shows us a series of densely popular frescoes detailing ritualistic pagan dances and copulations, as a menacing sun oversees the activity. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "‘Midsommar’ review: ‘Hereditary’ director follows up with a scary vacation trip," 25 June 2019 There are moments of tenderness and beauty here, including an idyllic prologue set at a nearby swimming hole where children splash, play, hide and seek, while Juan’s teenage son (Yago Martínez) and a girlfriend make love in a rocky hideaway. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘Our Time’ opens up a marriage and finds more beauty than insight," 11 July 2019 There are moments of tenderness and beauty here, including an idyllic prologue set at a nearby swimming hole where children splash, play, hide and seek, while Juan’s teenage son (Yago Martínez) and a girlfriend make love in a rocky hideaway. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "Review: Carlos Reygadas’ ‘Our Time’ opens up a marriage and finds more beauty than insight," 27 June 2019 After a brief prologue set in 1862 on the Cape of Good Hope, Mosse’s epic opens in a stinking prison cell in Toulouse. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A lush tale of love and hate and religion and politics," 20 June 2019

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

14 Aug 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

a period when something is suspended

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!