pro·​logue | \ˈprō-ˌlȯg, -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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for prologue


exordium, foreword, intro, introduction, preamble, preface, prelude, proem, prolusion


epilogue (also epilog)

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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

Privacy - Terms The prologue sets the stakes, and plays like the stray imaginings of our current president. Michael Phillips, kansascity, "‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ enters the border debate, guns blazing," 28 June 2018 Past isn’t always prologue, but the technology landscape tends to shift rapidly and humble even the most powerful players. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "Big Tech’s Path to $4 Trillion," 3 Aug. 2018 Sicario: Day of the Soldado has a prologue like something from the Terror Alert Desk of Sinclair Broadcasting. Gary Thompson,, "'Sicario: Day of the Soldado': On the border between action and exploitation," 27 June 2018 Naipaul divides the book into five sections, each about people in motion from one continent to another, and frames its different narratives with a prologue and an epilogue whose cadences match his own autobiographical writing. Michael Gorra, New York Times, "A Novel That Echoes Naipaul, Exploring the Limits of Freedom," 19 Jan. 2018 David Zabriskie also won a prologue on his debut in 2005 but was later stripped of the victory for admitting to doping. Joseph Wilson,, "Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria wins first stage of Tour de France," 7 July 2018 This was supposed to have been the prologue of his life. Rebecca Makkai,, "An excerpt from 'The Great Believers' by Rebecca Makkai: 1985," 21 May 2018 The film begins with a terrific prologue in which the great Robert Forster plays a preacher waiting impatiently for a stage coach. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Robert Pattinson is lovesick cowboy in offbeat 'Damsel'," 5 July 2018 Opera Philadelphia had already turned its plans for Poulenc’s La voix humaine into a larger project, augmenting the 40-minute work for a single singer with a dramatic prologue that includes French cabaret and art songs. Peter Dobrin,, "Opera Philadelphia adds a new dimension to 018 festival - an indie film to expand on an opera," 4 June 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.

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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

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Statistics for prologue

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prologue

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

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English Language Learners Definition of prologue

: an introduction to a book, play, etc.

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Comments on prologue

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to enclose within walls

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