WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
pre-, prefix. 
  • 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
    pre-, 
  • a prefix occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, where it meant "before'' (preclude;
    prevent
    );
    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;
    prewar;
    prepay: preoral;
    prefrontal
    ).
  • Also,  prae-. 
    • Latin prae-, prefixal use of prae (preposition and adverb, adverbial); akin to first, fore, prior, pro1

    P.R.E., 
  • Petroleum Refining Engineer.


  • Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    pre- prefix
    1. before in time, rank, order, position, etc: predate, pre-eminent, premeditation, prefrontal, preschool
    Etymology: from Latin prae-, from prae before, beforehand, in front



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