or pret·er·ite

[ pret-er-it ]

  1. in English, the simple past, or an instance or form of a specific verb in the simple past, such as ate or walked.

  2. a verb tense, construction, or form in another language with a meaning similar to that of the simple past in English.

  1. Grammar. designating a verb tense expressing a past action or state.

  2. Archaic. bygone; past.

Origin of preterit

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Latin praeteritus “past, gone by,” past participle of praeterīre “to go by,” from praeter- preter- + īre “to go”; as tense name, from Latin (tempus) praeteritum “(time) past”

Other words from preterit

  • pret·er·it·ness, noun

Words Nearby preterit Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use preterit in a sentence

  • The passive voice is formed by joining the participle preterit to the substantive verb, as I am loved.

  • Our verbs are observed by Dr. Wallis to be irregular only in the formation of the preterit, and its participle.

  • If did is itself a contraction of doed, the regular preterit, which is probable, whence comes ed in this word?

  • Grammarians allege that the termination of the regular preterit tense, ed, is a corruption of did.

  • The verbal forms in-ara and-iera were used then as now as the equivalent of the pluperfect or the preterit indicative.