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


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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
before in time, rank, order, position, etc: predate; pre-eminent; premeditation; prefrontal; preschool
[from Latin prae-, from prae before, beforehand, in front]

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Word Origin & History

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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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

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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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
progressive resistive exercise
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
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Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
THe simple solution is to take your own phone and simply purchase a local pre
  paid sim card.
Pre financial mathematical senior executives are no longer effective in capital
  market financial management.
Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a bowl and place in the pre-frozen container
  of an ice cream maker.
It is not even the minute, precise, loving observation of her aspects that
  gives him his pre-eminence.
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