[ prel-yood, preyl-, prey-lood, pree- ]
See synonyms for prelude on
  1. a preliminary to an action, event, condition, or work of broader scope and higher importance.

  2. any action, event, comment, etc. that precedes something else.

  1. Music.

    • a relatively short, independent instrumental composition, free in form and resembling an improvisation.

    • a piece that precedes a more important movement.

    • the overture to an opera.

    • an independent piece, of moderate length, sometimes used as an introduction to a fugue.

    • music opening a church service; an introductory voluntary.

verb (used with object),prel·ud·ed, prel·ud·ing.
  1. to serve as a prelude or introduction to.

  2. to introduce by a prelude.

  1. to play as a prelude.

verb (used without object),prel·ud·ed, prel·ud·ing.
  1. to serve as a prelude.

  2. to give a prelude.

  1. to play a prelude.

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

Other words for prelude

Other words from prelude

  • prel·ud·er, noun
  • pre·lu·di·al [pri-loo-dee-uhl], /prɪˈlu di əl/, pre·lu·di·ous, adjective
  • pre·lu·di·ous·ly, adverb
  • un·prel·ud·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use prelude in a sentence

  • Other preludes end with a prayer to the God for luck in the competition of reciters.

    The Homeric Hymns | Andrew Lang

British Dictionary definitions for prelude


/ (ˈprɛljuːd) /

    • 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

    • (esp for piano) a self-contained piece of music

  1. something serving as an introduction or preceding event, occurrence, etc

  1. to serve as a prelude to (something)

  2. (tr) to introduce by a prelude

Origin of 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

Derived forms of prelude

  • preluder (prɪˈljuːdə, ˈprɛljʊdə), noun
  • preludial, adjective
  • prelusion (prɪˈljuːʒən), noun
  • prelusive (prɪˈljuːsɪv) or prelusory (prɪˈljuːsərɪ), adjective
  • prelusively or prelusorily, adverb

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