Definition of prelude in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprelˌ(y)o͞od/
Pronunciation: /ˈprāˌl(y)o͞od/


1An action or event serving as an introduction to something more important: education cannot simply be a prelude to a career
More example sentences
  • A contest and talent hunt will be held as a prelude to the event.
  • As a prelude to the main event, the team will walk the 25 km from Changi Prison to Tanjung Pagar Railway Station in Singapore.
  • I think of Thanksgiving as a prelude to the big event of December and all the wonderful foods I will undoubtedly be consuming.
preliminary, overture, opening, preparation, introduction, start, commencement, beginning, lead-in, precursor
2An introductory piece of music, most commonly an orchestral opening to an act of an opera, the first movement of a suite, or a piece preceding a fugue.
Example sentences
  • His surviving output consists solely of instrumental music, including organ preludes and fugues, concertos for two harpsichords, and trio sonatas, much of it strongly influenced by Bach.
  • From the opening orchestral prelude, the depth and intensity of Bloch's vision of the Old Testament roll over the listener.
  • After the Brahms and the Haydn he learned three preludes and fugues of Bach, two Beethoven sonatas, a nocturne by Chopin, and pieces by Schumann and Ravel.
overture, introductory movement, introduction, opening
2.1A short introductory piece of music, especially for the piano.
Example sentences
  • He's also found time to be the pianist on this unusual release, which includes seventeen of his short works for saxophone and twelve equally short preludes for piano.
  • British composer Colin Matthews is orchestrating all 24 of Debussy's piano preludes, a project which many will find either foolhardy or sacrilegious.
  • Accompanied by Debussy piano preludes interpreted by Steve Gosling, the dancers took wing, as though they were laughing through the air.
2.2The introductory part of a poem or other literary work.
Example sentences
  • But the prelude tantalises in what it reveals, and represses.
  • The unnamed mistress, of whom the first eight lines are prelude, is finally addressed, but not until line nine- ‘As I meet thee.’
introduction, preface, prologue, foreword, preamble
informal intro, lead-in
formal exordium, proem, prolegomenon


[with object]
Serve as a prelude or introduction to: the bombardment preluded an all-out final attack
More example sentences
  • It was preluded by part of a different ballet called Ellipse, and I really liked those dances too.
  • Each visit to her mother was preluded by a mental perfection check list - Kelly dressed in one of her grandmother's latest frou-frou proper girl dresses, which usually included lace or frills or both.
  • When performed live this song was often preluded by descriptions of the harrowing experience many faced simply trying to find a tolerant and peaceful home, away from their places of birth.



Pronunciation: /priˈlo͞odēəl/ Pronunciation: /prā-/
Example sentences
  • This forty-minute work's four-movement structure opens with a preludial, expository movement which presents the basic material.
  • A young Vixen, in this preludial scene played by a child, frisks in, startling a frog, who leaping to safety, lands on the forester's nose.
  • If we could hear music only after an exhausting sequence of preludial actions I am sure it would suffer neglect.


Mid 16th century: from French prélude, from medieval Latin praeludium, from Latin praeludere 'play beforehand', from prae 'before' + ludere 'to play'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: prel·ude

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