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a prefix occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, where it meant “before” (preclude; prevent); applied freely as a prefix, with the meanings “prior to,” “in advance of,” “early,” “beforehand,” “before,” “in front of,” and with other figurative meanings (preschool; prewar; prepay; preoral; prefrontal).
Also, prae-.
Origin of pre-
< Latin prae-, prefixal use of prae (preposition and adv.); akin to first, fore-, prior1, pro1


Petroleum Refining Engineer. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pre
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • pre Gratry felt painfully that the dogmas of the Church were but as an 'unknown tongue' to many of the best of his compatriots.

    Lux Mundi Various
  • The pre- verbal (or pre-discursive) is immediate by its very nature.

  • The new chaplain read the marriage service, but pre Michaux gave the bride away.

    Anne Constance Fenimore Woolson
  • Scarcely a day passed that the pre did not change his mind about him.

    Gerald Fitzgerald Charles James Lever
  • The pre Louis' tolerance and sense of duty so affected Anthony that his awkward arms were very gentle.

    Strange Stories of the Great River Abbie Johnston Grosvenor
British Dictionary definitions for pre


before in time, rank, order, position, etc: predate, pre-eminent, premeditation, prefrontal, preschool
Word Origin
from Latin prae-, from prae before, beforehand, in front
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pre


word-forming element meaning "before," from Old French pre- and Medieval Latin pre-, both from Latin prae (adverb and preposition) "before in time or place," from PIE *peri- (cf. Oscan prai, Umbrian pre, Sanskrit pare "thereupon," Greek parai "at," Gaulish are- "at, before," Lithuanian pre "at," Old Church Slavonic pri "at," Gothic faura, Old English fore "before"), extended form of root *per- (1) "beyond" (see per).

The Latin word was active in forming verbs. Also cf. prae-. Sometimes in Middle English muddled with words in pro- or per-.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pre in Medicine

pre- pref.

  1. Earlier; before; prior to: prenatal.

  2. Anterior; in front of: preaxial.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Related Abbreviations for pre


progressive resistive exercise
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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