late 14c., "an introduction to the canon of the Mass," also "statement or statements introducing a discourse, book, or other composition; series of preliminary remarks, written or spoken," from Old French preface "opening part of sung devotions" (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin prefatia, from Latin praefationem (nominative praefatio) "fore-speaking, introduction," in Medieval Latin "prologue," noun of action from past participle stem of praefari "to say beforehand," from prae "before" (see pre-) + fari "speak," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say."
"give a preface to, introduce by preliminary written or spoken remarks," 1610s, from preface (n.). Related: Prefaced; prefacing.
updated on October 17, 2020