also pre-digest, "digest more or less completely by artificial means before introducing into the body," 1660s, from pre- "before" + digest (v.). Figurative use by 1905. Related: Predigested; predigesting; predigestion.
word-forming element meaning "before," from Old French pre- and Medieval Latin pre-, both from Latin prae (adverb and preposition) "before in time or place," from PIE *peri- (source also of Oscan prai, Umbrian pre, Sanskrit pare "thereupon," Greek parai "at," Gaulish are- "at, before," Lithuanian prie "at," Old Church Slavonic pri "at," Gothic faura, Old English fore "before"), extended form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "beyond, in front of, before."
The Latin word was active in forming verbs. Also see prae-. Sometimes in Middle English muddled with words in pro- or per-.
late 14c., digesten, assimilate (food) in the bowels," also "divide, separate; arrange methodically in the mind," from Latin digestus past participle of digerere "to separate, divide, arrange," etymologically "to carry apart," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + gerere "to carry" (see gest). Meaning "assimilate mentally" is from mid-15c. Related: Digested; digesting.