Definition of preface in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprefəs/


1An introduction to a book, typically stating its subject, scope, or aims.
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.
introduction, foreword, preamble, prologue, prelude;
front matter
informal prelims, intro, lead-in
formal exordium, proem, prolegomenon
1.1The introduction or preliminary part of a speech or event.
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.
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]
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'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pref·ace

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