[ prel-yood, preyl-, prey-lood, pree- ]
/ ˈprɛl yud, ˈpreɪl-, ˈpreɪ lud, ˈpri- /


verb (used with object), prel·ud·ed, prel·ud·ing.

verb (used without object), prel·ud·ed, prel·ud·ing.

Nearby words

  1. preload,
  2. prelog,
  3. prelog, vladimir,
  4. prelogical thinking,
  5. preloved,
  6. preludin,
  7. prelusion,
  8. prelusive,
  9. prelusively,
  10. prelusory

Origin of prelude

1555–65; (noun) < Medieval Latin praelūdium, equivalent to prae- pre- + -lūdium play; compare Latin lūdus play; (v.) < Latin praelūdere to play beforehand

Related formsprel·ud·er, nounpre·lu·di·al [pri-loo-dee-uhl] /prɪˈlu di əl/, pre·lu·di·ous, adjectivepre·lu·di·ous·ly, adverbun·prel·ud·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prelude

British Dictionary definitions for prelude


/ (ˈprɛljuːd) /


  1. a piece of music that precedes a fugue, or forms the first movement of a suite, or an introduction to an act in an opera, etc
  2. (esp for piano) a self-contained piece of music
something serving as an introduction or preceding event, occurrence, etc


to serve as a prelude to (something)
(tr) to introduce by a prelude
Derived Forms

Word Origin for prelude

C16: (n) from Medieval Latin praelūdium, from prae before + -lūdium entertainment, from Latin lūdus play; (vb) from Late Latin praelūdere to play beforehand, rehearse, from lūdere to play

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

Word Origin and History for prelude



1560s, from Middle French prélude "notes sung or played to test the voice or instrument" (1530s), from Medieval Latin preludium "prelude, preliminary," from Latin praeludere "to play beforehand for practice, preface," from prae- "before" (see pre-) + ludere "to play" (see ludicrous). Purely musical sense first attested in English 1650s. Related: Prelusion.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper