pref·​ace | \ ˈpre-fəs How to pronounce preface (audio) \

Definition of preface

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 often capitalized : a variable doxology beginning with the Sursum Corda and ending with the Sanctus in traditional eucharistic liturgies
2 : the introductory remarks of a speaker or author


prefaced; prefacing

Definition of preface (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to make introductory remarks

transitive verb

1 : to say or write as preface a note prefaced to the manuscript
3 : to introduce by or begin with a preface
4 : to stand in front of a porch prefaces the entrance
5 : to be a preliminary to

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from preface


prefacer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for preface

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of preface in a Sentence

Noun The book's preface was written by the author. a noted critic has written a short preface to her story to explain some of the historical background
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But the economist Darrick Hamilton, who wrote the preface to the Contract with Black America, has Ice Cube’s ear. Anna Deavere Smith, The New York Review of Books, 5 Nov. 2020 Etulain states as much in the book’s preface, noting that Hatfield’s Senate papers at Willamette University were inaccessible during the author’s research. oregonlive, 26 Aug. 2021 In her preface to the third edition of Origins, Arendt cautioned against prematurely crying totalitarianism in a U.S. context. Rebecca Panovka, Harper's Magazine, 20 July 2021 William Fetterman, in which a detachment of 81 American soldiers were lured away from the fort and killed by an alliance of Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors, a slaughter that came to be seen as a preface to the debacle at Little Bighorn. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 2 July 2021 Another obvious query to the program of How to Blow Up a Pipeline is that things have changed even since Malm composed his preface in late March of last year. Benjamin Kunkel, The New Republic, 26 May 2021 The title is borrowed from a poem about love and death, by Paul Laurence Dunbar, that serves as the film’s preface and also figures powerfully in the drama. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 4 June 2021 In a 1994 preface to the book, Collins urged more spending on space exploration and on an astronaut mission to Mars. Jessica Gresko, Anchorage Daily News, 28 Apr. 2021 In a 1994 preface to the book, Collins urged more spending on space exploration and on a manned mission to Mars. Jessica Gresko, Chron, 28 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The event will preface a two-part exhibit celebrating American fashion. Glenn Garner,, 11 Aug. 2021 As the meeting began, the candidate expressed a need to preface his remarks with a denunciation of his hosts. Barton Swaim, WSJ, 28 June 2021 Moore tends to preface conversations of anything remotely political or sensitive with some aw-shucks disclaimer. Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone, 8 June 2021 In fact, the world might be a far better place if the phrase were included on every high school and college diploma and preface every HR guideline, management workshop and employment contract. Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2021 Fans responded so fervently that A-REECE decided to preface the sequel with a mixtape, to give himself time to truly perfect his second record. Rianna Turner, Forbes, 10 Apr. 2021 The power of the television interview — though absolutely enhanced through camera work and editing — lies in the interaction, in the moments that preface an answer, the moments that follow it. Los Angeles Times, 8 Mar. 2021 Her performance, which was announced via Good Morning America early on Wednesday, will preface kickoff on February 7. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 Jan. 2021 Multicolored ruminations in the slow movement and ensuing cadenza preface the finale’s explosion of hip-shifting rhythms echoing Argentine folk music. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 25 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'preface.' 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 preface


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1619, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for preface


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin prephatia, alteration of Latin praefation-, praefatio foreword, from praefari to say beforehand, from prae- pre- + fari to say — more at ban entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About preface

Time Traveler for preface

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near preface




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for preface

Last Updated

23 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Preface.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for preface



English Language Learners Definition of preface

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an introduction to a book or speech



English Language Learners Definition of preface (Entry 2 of 2)

: to introduce (a piece of writing, a speech, a remark, etc.) by writing or saying something


pref·​ace | \ ˈpre-fəs How to pronounce preface (audio) \

Kids Definition of preface

: a section at the beginning that introduces a book or a speech

More from Merriam-Webster on preface

Nglish: Translation of preface for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of preface for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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