Definition of preface in English:


Syllabification: pref·ace
Pronunciation: /ˈprefəs


  • 1An introduction to a book, typically stating its subject, scope, or aims.
    More example sentences
    • This article is excerpted from the new preface to the updated paperback edition.
    • Aguilera has written a preface for the book introducing the ongoing show at the Shanghai Museum, which is entitled ‘The Mayan Treasures from Mexico.’
    • The book contains a preface, six chapters and two appendices - one a list of end uses of asbestos and the other a partial list of organizations that specified asbestos in codes or standards.
  • 1.1The introduction or preliminary part of a speech or event.
    More example sentences
    • The only statement even vaguely likely to incite dislike is a preface to the summary of western thought which is characterised as ‘the inconsistency of their argument’.
    • In addition to providing some history about them, it also doubles as a preface for describing the animation.
    • Ignoring her greeting card preface, the trio around me began to weave a tangle of memories, Lily's going farther back than the others.
  • 1.2 Christian Church The introduction to the central part of the Eucharist, historically forming the first part of the canon or prayer of consecration.
    More example sentences
    • He would advocate a return to the 1962 Roman Missal but with the possibility of accepting an updated Sanctorale and new prefaces.


[with object] Back to top  
  • 1Provide (a book) with a preface: the book is prefaced by a quotation from William Faulkner
    More example sentences
    • The book is prefaced by a ‘cast of characters’, and characters rather than abstractions govern its course.
    • The book is prefaced with four pages of worried preamble by the author about her inspiration - the memoir of an 18 th-century Korean crown princess - and how she translated its impact.
    • The volume is prefaced by an excellent review by the editors on the state of research which incorporates the submitted papers and an extensive bibliography.
    precede, introduce, begin, open, start
  • 1.1 (preface something with/by) Introduce or begin (a speech or event) with or by doing something: it is important to preface the debate with a general comment
    More example sentences
    • Grant prefaced his speech with a discourse on the need of godly friendship.
    • Bayoumi and Rubin provide insight into Said's work by prefacing each selection with introductory remarks.
    • I have fought off the temptation to preface my answers with a long-winded introduction.


late Middle English: via Old French from medieval Latin praefatia, alteration of Latin praefatio(n-) 'words spoken beforehand', from the verb praefari, from prae 'before' + fari 'speak'.

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a small amount; a little