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[pree-am-buh l, pree-am-] /ˈpriˌæm bəl, priˈæm-/
an introductory statement; preface; introduction.
the introductory part of a statute, deed, or the like, stating the reasons and intent of what follows.
a preliminary or introductory fact or circumstance:
His childhood in the slums was a preamble to a life of crime.
(initial capital letter) the introductory statement of the U.S. Constitution, setting forth the general principles of American government and beginning with the words, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union. …”.
Origin of preamble
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin praeambulum, noun use of neuter of Late Latin praeambulus walking before. See pre-, amble
Related forms
preambled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for preamble
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As in the case of other laws, let us have a preamble, relating to all this class of crime.

    Laws Plato
  • The first four books are described by Plato himself as the preface or preamble.

    Laws Plato
  • Let this be the preamble of our laws; the strain will follow.

    Laws Plato
  • "This preamble does not promise well," said Lady Kilgoff, with a cold smile.

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • So he waited with a hope-lit serenity the preamble to the arrival of his—her—their child.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • As a preamble La Signorina raised the inevitable veil to the rim of her hat.

    The Lure of the Mask Harold MacGrath
British Dictionary definitions for preamble


a preliminary or introductory statement, esp attached to a statute or constitution setting forth its purpose
a preliminary or introductory conference, event, fact, etc
Word Origin
C14: from Old French préambule, from Late Latin praeambulum walking before, from Latin prae- before + ambulāre to walk
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 preamble

late 14c., from Old French preambule (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin preambulum, neuter adjective used as a noun, properly "preliminary," from Late Latin praeambulus "walking before," from Latin prae- "before" (see pre-) + ambulare "to walk" (see amble (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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