WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
pre- comes from Latin, where it has the meaning "before, in front of,'' "prior to, in advance of,'' "being more than, surpassing'':pre- + -dict → predict (= say in advance of something);
pre- + eminent → preeminent (= surpassing or being more than eminent);
pre- + face → preface (= something written in front of a book, etc.)
pre- is also attached to verbs to form new verbs that refer to an activity taking place before or instead of the usual occurrence of the same activity:pre- + board → preboard (= to board an airplane before the other passengers);pre- + cook → precook (= cook before regular cooking).
pre- is also used in forming adjectives that refer to a period of time before the event, period, person, etc., mentioned in the root:pre- + school → preschool (= before the age of starting school);pre- + war → prewar (= before the war started).
WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
a prefix occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, where it meant "before'' (preclude;
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;
Petroleum Refining Engineer.
- Latin prae-, prefixal use of prae (preposition and adverb, adverbial); akin to first, fore, prior, pro1
Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
Etymology: from Latin prae-, from prae before, beforehand, in front
- before in time, rank, order, position, etc: predate, pre-eminent, premeditation, prefrontal, preschool
'pre' also found in these entries: