Definition of propaedeutic in US English:



  • (of an area of study) serving as a preliminary instruction or as an introduction to further study.

    • ‘However, this sort of overarching perspective only has the propaedeutic function of pointing our attention in a certain direction.’
    • ‘In this example, primarily for propaedeutic reasons, Fergie's performance is problematised.’
    • ‘His lectures and then his writings became highly significant propaedeutic resources, and many of his collections were taken up by the University botanical garden and then later by the Fitzwilliam Museum.’
    informative, instructional, informational, illuminating, enlightening, revealing, explanatory, telling
    View synonyms


  • An introduction to a subject or area of study.

    • ‘His reading thus provides us with a propaedeutic to the memorial potential of art after Auschwitz.’
    • ‘Her method, then, is not a propaedeutic of the destruction or the destructuration of two terms in order to establish a synthesis that is neither one nor the other.’
    • ‘This support of the fabrication of the transcendent in its different modes, all of which, according to Diotima, come under the same propaedeutic: love of beauty.’
    • ‘This view may be compared with the latest contribution to the relevant taxonomies from Douglas Canfield, whose Tricksters and Estates provides a theoretical propaedeutic to his major Broadview anthology.’
    • ‘Logic, sometimes called philosophia rationales, forms the introduction or propaedeutic to both.’


Late 18th century: from pro- ‘before’ + Greek paideutikos ‘of or for teaching’, suggested by Greek propaideuein ‘teach beforehand’.