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., "small vessel used in assaying precious metals," from Old French test, from Latin testum "earthen pot," related to testa "piece of burned clay, earthen pot, shell" (see tete).
Sense of "trial or examination to determine the correctness of something" is recorded from 1590s. The connecting notion is "ascertaining the quality of a metal by melting it in a pot." Test Act was the name given to various laws in English history meant to exclude Catholics and Nonconformists from office, especially that of 1673, repealed 1828. Test drive (v.) is first recorded 1954.
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Harper, D. (n.d.). Etymology of pretest. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved $(datetime), from https://www.etymonline.com/word/pretest