[ pri-pos-ter-uhs, -truhs ]
/ prɪˈpɒs tər əs, -trəs /


completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd; senseless; utterly foolish: a preposterous tale.

Nearby words

  1. prepositive,
  2. prepositor,
  3. prepossess,
  4. prepossessing,
  5. prepossession,
  6. prepostor,
  7. prepotency,
  8. prepotent,
  9. prepotential,
  10. preppie

Origin of preposterous

First recorded in 1535–45, preposterous is from the Latin word praeposterus with the hinder part foremost. See pre-, posterior, -ous

Related forms

Synonym study

See absurd. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for preposterous

British Dictionary definitions for preposterous


/ (prɪˈpɒstərəs) /


contrary to nature, reason, or sense; absurd; ridiculous
Derived Formspreposterously, adverbpreposterousness, noun

Word Origin for preposterous

C16: from Latin praeposterus reversed, from prae in front, before + posterus following

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 preposterous



1540s, from Latin praeposterus "absurd, contrary to nature, inverted, perverted, in reverse order," literally "before-behind" (cf. topsy-turvy, cart before the horse), from prae "before" + posterus "subsequent." Related: Preposterously; preposterousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper