Definition of preface in English:



  • 1An introduction to a book, typically stating its subject, scope, or aims.

    • ‘Publishers could help by inviting authors to state in the prefaces to their books what in their view would constitute valid and serious grounds for scholarly criticism and disagreement.’
    • ‘It appears in a 1964 letter published as a preface to a text written in the 1920s.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The relaunched book will include a preface written by renowned local poet Desmond Egan.’
    • ‘As George Menasseri, noted academician who wrote the preface to the book, points out, it is a break from the tradition in that the authors did not depend much on the works of foreign writers.’
    • ‘I annotated it and prepared the double book for publication with a preface explaining what I had done and why I had done it.’
    • ‘So when, earlier this year, the publishers Weidenfeld & Nicolson asked me to write a new preface to Christian's book, I was eager to read it.’
    • ‘The book's 246 pages are divided into two forewords, a preface, eight chapters, and seven appendixes.’
    • ‘Here's his preface to the original edition written in 1934.’
    • ‘Aguilera has written a preface for the book introducing the ongoing show at the Shanghai Museum, which is entitled ‘The Mayan Treasures from Mexico.’’
    • ‘First published in 1994, this revised, softcover edition is, with the exception of a short preface, identical to the original, hardcover publication.’
    • ‘As the poet, writer and journalist Mohamad notes in his preface, the book makes no attempt to give a comprehensive account of the era.’
    • ‘In the preface of her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, Betty Freidan wrote: ‘There was a strange discrepancy between the reality of our lives as women and the image to which we were trying to conform’.’
    • ‘This article is excerpted from the new preface to the updated paperback edition.’
    • ‘Ullman's 10 steps are listed in a preface to the book's introduction and then spelled out over the course of eight chapters.’
    introduction, foreword, preamble, prologue, prelude, opening remarks, prefatory remarks, preliminary remarks
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    1. 1.1 A preliminary explanation.
      ‘it was an abrupt question, made without even the preface of a greeting’
      • ‘Add here the standard preface that I'm not a lawyer.’
      • ‘As a preface to discussing specifics, I need to bring up some general issues surrounding theories of literary dependence.’
      • ‘A brief preface to each speech sets the historical context leading up to the event and provides a glimpse into Frome's life.’
      • ‘Ignoring her greeting card preface, the trio around me began to weave a tangle of memories, Lily's going farther back than the others.’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘As a preface to this speech we should all remind ourselves that there is much work that needs to be done to achieve this ambition.’
      • ‘Jesus offers a preface in these verses, which come near the conclusion of the section in John commonly referred to as Jesus' farewell discourse.’
      • ‘In addition to providing some history about them, it also doubles as a preface for describing the animation.’
      • ‘But that kind of clarification of my understanding of biblical teaching for evangelical groups has usually been a preface to a plea for humility.’
    2. 1.2Christian Church The introduction to the central part of the Eucharist, historically forming the first part of the canon or prayer of consecration. In the Western Church it comes between the Sursum Corda and the Sanctus and varies with the season.
      • ‘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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sixteen essays, which are prefaced by an introduction by the editors, look at Newton's works in physics, mathematics, metaphysics and chemistry.’
    • ‘Key prefaced his fourth and final book, Age of Manipulation, with an ‘Author's Warning.’’
    • ‘Featuring over 140 creative recipes and prefaced by witty introductions, the book offers an inspirational approach to cooking and eating seasonal food.’
    • ‘As the title suggests, the book is divided into three parts, prefaced by a brief introductory chapter and followed by a brief concluding chapter.’
    precede, introduce, prefix, begin, open, start, launch, lead up to, lead into
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    1. 1.1preface 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’
      • ‘Reading through Ann Lauterbach's ‘On a Stair’, I see that she prefaces the book with two quotes.’
      • ‘On each occasion I've prefaced my concerns with this statement: ‘I'm not being critical of your country.’’
      • ‘Almost every worker to whom I spoke prefaced their comments with the remark - ‘It's a sad day for the town.’’
      • ‘The Rabbi, who organized the event, prefaces the talk with a small spiel about declining synagogue attendance among young Jews.’
      • ‘I have fought off the temptation to preface my answers with a long-winded introduction.’
      • ‘Each time, he prefaces the proposal with a hedging ‘I think’, which indicates that he is aware that many readers are likely to think otherwise.’
      • ‘The editors have prefaced the articles with an introduction that is, in fact, a fascinating historiographical essay which could well stand on its own.’
      • ‘I preface my remarks by saying that I do not like the fact that our tuition is going up.’
      • ‘I must preface my remarks with a confession: I didn't watch the Superbowl on Sunday.’
      • ‘No wonder the man needed to preface his messages with the pronouncement that he was ‘accomplished’ and an ‘expert.’’
      • ‘Bayoumi and Rubin provide insight into Said's work by prefacing each selection with introductory remarks.’
      • ‘Each of these sections contains several essays and the author has thoughtfully prefaced each section with an overview and introduction, sometimes expanding on the intention or context of one of the chapters.’
      • ‘Grant prefaced his speech with a discourse on the need of godly friendship.’
      • ‘Usually she prefaced her comments with the exclamation, ‘Ay, Senora!’’
      • ‘I'd like to preface my comments with the fact that I haven't slept for any appreciable amount of time since Thursday night.’


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’.