- 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).
Origin of pre-
- before in time, rank, order, position, etcpredate; pre-eminent; premeditation; prefrontal; preschool
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-.
- Earlier; before; prior to:prenatal.
- Anterior; in front of:preaxial.