preamble (n.) Look up preamble at
late 14c., from Old French preambule (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin preambulum, neuter adjective used as a noun, properly "preliminary," from Late Latin praeambulus "walking before," from Latin prae- "before" (see pre-) + ambulare "to walk" (see amble (v.)).
preamplifier (n.) Look up preamplifier at
1929, from pre- + amplifier. Shortened form pre-amp is attested from 1957.
preassembly (n.) Look up preassembly at
1921, from pre- + assembly.
prebend (n.) Look up prebend at
early 15c., from Old French prebende, earlier provende (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin prebenda "allowance," from Late Latin praebenda "allowance, pension" (see provender). Related: Prebendary.
Precambrian (adj.) Look up Precambrian at
also Pre-Cambrian, 1861, from pre- + Cambrian.
precarious (adj.) Look up precarious at
1640s, a legal word, "held through the favor of another," from Latin precarius "obtained by asking or praying," from prex (genitive precis) "entreaty, prayer" (see pray). Notion of "dependent on the will of another" led to extended sense "risky, dangerous, uncertain" (1680s). "No word is more unskillfully used than this with its derivatives. It is used for uncertain in all its senses; but it only means uncertain, as dependent on others ..." [Johnson]. Related: Precariously; precariousness.
precatory (adj.) Look up precatory at
1630s, from Late Latin precatorius "pertaining to petitioning," from precatorem "one who prays," agent noun from precari "to pray" (see pray).
precaution (n.) Look up precaution at
c. 1600, from French précaution (16c.) and directly from Late Latin praecautionem (nominative praecautio) "a safeguarding," from past participle stem of Latin praecavere "to guard against beforehand," from prae "before" (see pre-) + cavere "to be one's own guard" (see caution (n.)). The verb meaning "to warn (someone) in advance" is from c. 1700.
precautionary (adj.) Look up precautionary at
1720, from precaution + -ary.
precautious (adj.) Look up precautious at
1680s, from precaution + -ous. Related: Precautiously; precautiousness.
precede (v.) Look up precede at
early 15c., "lead the way; occur before," from Middle French preceder and directly from Latin praecedere "to go before," from prae "before" (see pre-) + cedere "to go" (see cede). Meaning "to walk in front of" is late 15c.; that of "to go before in rank or importance" is attested from mid-15c. Related: Preceded; preceding.
precedence (n.) Look up precedence at
late 15c., "a being a precedent," from precedent (n.) + -ence. Meaning "fact of preceding another, right of preceding another" is from c. 1600.
precedent (n.) Look up precedent at
early 15c., "case which may be taken as a rule in similar cases," from Middle French precedent, noun use of an adjective, from Latin praecedentum (nominative praecedens), present participle of praecedere "go before" (see precede). Meaning "thing or person that goes before another" is attested from mid-15c. As an adjective in English from c. 1400. As a verb meaning "to furnish with a precedent" from 1610s, now only in past participle precedented.
precedented (adj.) Look up precedented at
1650s, past participle adjective from precedent, which is attested as a verb from 1610s.
precent (v.) Look up precent at
"to lead others in singing," 1732, from Latin praecantare "to sing before," or a back-formation from precentor.
precentor (n.) Look up precentor at
1610s, from Late Latin praecentor "a leader in singing," from Latin praecantare "to sing before," from prae "before" (see pre-) + canere "to sing" (see chant (v.)). For change of vowel, see biennial.
precept (n.) Look up precept at
late 14c., from Old French percept, percet (12c.), from Latin praeceptum "maxim, rule of conduct, order," noun use of neuter past participle of praecipere "give rules to, order, advise," literally "take beforehand," from prae "before" (see pre-) + capere (past participle captus) "to take" (see capable). For change of vowel, see biennial.
preception (n.) Look up preception at
1610s, from Latin praeceptionem (nominative praeceptio) "a previous notion, preconception," literally "a taking beforehand," noun of action from past participle stem of praecipere (see precept).
preceptor (n.) Look up preceptor at
early 15c., "tutor, instructor" (earliest reference might be to "expert in the art of writing"), from Latin praeceptor "teacher, instructor," agent noun from praecipere (see precept). Medical training sense attested from 1803.
preceptorship (n.) Look up preceptorship at
1764, from preceptor + -ship.
precession (n.) Look up precession at
1590s, from Late Latin praecissionem (nominative praecissio) "a coming before," from past participle stem of Latin praecedere "to go before" (see precede). Originally used in reference to calculations of the equinoxes, which come slightly earlier each year.
precieuse (n.) Look up precieuse at
"pedantic woman, woman aiming at refined delicacy of language and taste" (1727), from French précieuse, noun use of fem. of précieux (see precious (adj.)); especially as lampooned in Molière's comedy "Les Précieuses ridicules" (1659).
precinct (n.) Look up precinct at
c. 1400, prasaynt (mid-15c. as precincte), "district defined for purposes of government or representation," from Medieval Latin precinctum "enclosure, boundary line," noun use of neuter past participle of Latin praecingere "to gird about, surround," from prae- "before" (see pre-) + cingere "to surround, encircle" (see cinch (v.)).
precious (adj.) Look up precious at
mid-13c., from Old French precios "precious, costly, honorable, of great worth" (11c., Modern French précieux), from Latin pretiosus "costly, valuable," from pretium "value, worth, price" (see price (n.)). Meaning "over-refined" in English first recorded late 14c. In Johnson's day, it also had a secondary inverted sense of "worthless." Related: Preciously; preciousness.
precious (n.) Look up precious at
"beloved or dear person or object," 1706, from precious (adj.).
precipe (n.) Look up precipe at
1610s, from Latin praecipes, variant of praeceps "headfirst, headlong, precipitous," as a noun, "a precipice" (see precipice).
precipice (n.) Look up precipice at
"steep face of rock," 1630s, from Middle French précipice, from Latin praecipitium "a steep place," literally "a fall or leap," from praeceps (genitive praecipitis) "steep, headlong, headfirst," from prae "before, forth" (see pre-) + caput "head" (see head (n.)). Earlier in English as a verb (1590s) meaning "fall to great depth."
precipitant (adj.) Look up precipitant at
1610s, from Latin precipitantem, present participle of praecipitare (see precipitate (v.)). As a noun in chemistry from 1680s. The adjective senses now are taken by precipitate (adj.).
precipitate (v.) Look up precipitate at
"to hurl or fling down," 1520s, a back formation from precipitation or else from Latin praecipitatus, past participle of praecipitare "to throw or dive headlong," from praeceps "steep, headlong, headfirst" (see precipice). Meaning "to cause to happen, hurry the beginning of" is recorded from 1620s. Chemical sense is from 1620s; meteorological sense first attested 1863. Related: Precipitated; precipitating.
precipitate (adj.) Look up precipitate at
c. 1600, from Latin praecipitatus, past participle of praecipitare "to throw or dive headlong" (see precipitate (v.)). Meaning "hasty" is attested from 1650s. Related: Precipitately.
precipitate (n.) Look up precipitate at
1560s, probably a back formation from precipitation.
precipitation (n.) Look up precipitation at
late 15c., "a casting down" (of the evil angels from heaven), also, in alchemy "separation of a solid substance from a solution," from Middle French precipitation (15c.) and directly from Latin praecipitationem (nominative praecipitatio) "act or fact of falling headlong, haste," noun of action from past participle stem of praecipitare "fall, be hasty," from praeceps "steep" (see precipice). Meaning "sudden haste" is c. 1500. Meaning "act of falling from a height" is attested from 1610s. Meteorological sense of "rain, snow, dew, etc." is from 1670s.
precipitious (adj.) Look up precipitious at
1610s, now obsolete, but preferred by purists for the sense "high and steep" over the later formation precipitous.
precipitous (adj.) Look up precipitous at
1640s, "rash, headlong," from obsolete French precipiteux (16c.), from Vulgar Latin *praecipitosus, from praecipitare (see precipitation). Related: Precipitously; precipitousness.
precis (n.) Look up precis at
1760, from French noun use of Middle French précis "cut short, condensed" (see precise). As a verb, from 1856.
precise (adj.) Look up precise at
mid-15c., from Middle French précis "condensed, cut short" (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin precisus, from Latin praecisus "abrupt, abridged, cut off," past participle of praecidere "to cut off, shorten," from prae "before" (see pre-) + caedere "to cut" (see -cide; for Latin vowel change, see acquisition). Related: Precisely (late 14c.).
preciseness (n.) Look up preciseness at
"precision," 1560s, from precise + -ness.
precisian (n.) Look up precisian at
"one devoted to precision," 1570s, from precise + -ian on model of Christian, etc.
precision (n.) Look up precision at
1630s, "a cutting off (mentally), abstraction," from French précision (16c.) and directly from Latin praecisionem (nominative praecisio) "a cutting off," noun of action from past participle stem of praecidere (see precise). Meaning "preciseness" is from 1740.
preclude (v.) Look up preclude at
1610s, from Latin praecludere "to close, shut off; hinder, impede," from prae- "before, ahead" (see pre-) + claudere "to shut" (see close (v.)). Related: Precluded; precluding.
preclusion (n.) Look up preclusion at
1610s, from Latin praeclusionem (nominative praeclusio) "a shutting off," noun of action from past participle stem of praecludere (see preclude).
precocious (adj.) Look up precocious at
1640s, "developed before the usual time" (of plants), with -ous + Latin praecox (genitive praecocis) "maturing early," from prae "before" (see pre-) + coquere "to ripen," literally "to cook" (see cook (n.)). Originally of flowers or fruits. Figurative use, of persons, dates from 1670s. Related: Precociously; precociousness.
precocity (n.) Look up precocity at
1630s, from French précocité (17c.), from précoce "precicious," from Latin praecocem (nom. praecox); see precocious.
precognition (n.) Look up precognition at
"foreknowledge," mid-15c., from Late Latin praecognitionem (nom. praecognitio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin praecognoscere "to foreknow," from prae "before" (see pre-) + cognoscere "to know" (see cognizance).
preconceive (v.) Look up preconceive at
1570s, from pre- + conceive. Related: Preconceived; preconceiving.
preconception (n.) Look up preconception at
1620s, from pre- + conception. Related: Preconceptions.
precondition (n.) Look up precondition at
1825, from pre- + condition (n.). As a verb from 1841.
preconscious (adj.) Look up preconscious at
1860, from pre- + conscious (adj.).
precool (v.) Look up precool at
also pre-cool, 1904, from pre- + cool (v.). Related: Precooled; precooling.
precursor (n.) Look up precursor at
early 15c., from Middle French precurseur and directly from Latin praecursor "forerunner," agent noun from past participle stem of praecurrere, from prae "before" (see pre-) + currere "to run" (see current (adj.)). Related: Precursory.