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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 adv.); akin to first, fore, prior, pro1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for pre-


before in time, rank, order, position, etc predate, pre-eminent, premeditation, prefrontal, preschool
Word Origin
from Latin prae-, from prae before, beforehand, in front
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for pre-
prefix meaning "before," from O.Fr. pre- and M.L. pre-, both from L. præ (adv.) "before," from PIE *prai- (cf. Oscan prai, Umbrian pre, Skt. pare "thereupon," Gk. parai "at," Gaul. are- "at, before," Lith. pre "at," O.C.S. pri "at," Goth. faura, O.E. fore "before"), variant of base per- "beyond." The L. word was active in forming compound verbs.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pre- in Medicine

pre- pref.

  1. Earlier; before; prior to: prenatal.

  2. Anterior; in front of: preaxial.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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