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[pri-pos-ter-uh s, -truh s] /prɪˈpɒs tər əs, -trəs/
completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd; senseless; utterly foolish:
a preposterous tale.
Origin of preposterous
1535-45; < Latin praeposterus with the hinder part foremost. See pre-, posterior, -ous
Related forms
preposterously, adverb
preposterousness, noun
unpreposterous, adjective
unpreposterously, adverb
unpreposterousness, noun
unreasonable, excessive, ridiculous. See absurd. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for preposterous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Even he saw something funny in the preposterous coup of the half-crowns and the little boys.

    The Napoleon of Notting Hill Gilbert K. Chesterton
  • How preposterous in him to mention his dead sister's name to her!

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • But something more indiscreet and preposterous than this, is advanced for our admiration.

    Thoughts on African Colonization William Lloyd Garrison
  • They created the most preposterous romances; and could not get the credit of creating them.

    Alarms and Discursions G. K. Chesterton
  • It is preposterous that he should think of it—even to transcend his engines.

    Gladiator Philip Wylie
British Dictionary definitions for preposterous


contrary to nature, reason, or sense; absurd; ridiculous
Derived Forms
preposterously, adverb
preposterousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin praeposterus reversed, from prae in front, before + posterus following
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for preposterous

1540s, from Latin praeposterus "absurd, contrary to nature, inverted, perverted, in reverse order," literally "before-behind" (cf. topsy-turvy, cart before the horse), from prae "before" + posterus "subsequent." Related: Preposterously; preposterousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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