Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A preliminary exercise.
  • n. An essay written as a preface to a more detailed work.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A trial before the principal performance; a prelude.
  • n. An introductory essay.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A trial before the principal performance; a prelude; hence, an introductory essay or exercise.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A prelude to a game, performance, or entertainment; hence, a prelude, introduction, or preliminary in general.
  • n. An essay or preparatory exercise in which the writer tries his own strength, or throws out some preliminary remarks on a subject which he intends to treat more profoundly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a short introductory essay preceding the text of a book
  • n. exercising in preparation for strenuous activity

Etymologies

Latin prōlūsiō, prōlūsiōn-, from prōlūsus, past participle of prōlūdere, to practice beforehand : prō-, before; see pro-1 + lūdere, to play; see leid- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin prolusio, from proludere ("to prelude"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • On the other hand, what cackling and strutting must we not often hear and see, when, in some shape of academical prolusion, maiden speech, review article, this or the other well-fledged goose has produced its goose-egg, of quite measurable value, were it the pink of its whole kind; and wonders why all mortals do not wonder!

    Paras. 1-19

  • It was, after all, only the easiest part of the task that he had set before him, only a prolusion to the tragedy that he would have to play to a finish.

    The Nebuly Coat

  • The "State of Innocence," as it could not be designed for the stage, seems to have been originally intended as a mere poetical prolusion; for

    The Dramatic Works of John Dryden, Volume 1 With a Life of the Author

  • Her presence was in some measure a restraint on the worthy divine, whose prolusion lasted the longer, and was the more intricate and embarrassed, that he felt himself debarred from rounding it off by his usual alliterative petition for deliverance from Popery, Prelacy, and

    Peveril of the Peak

  • This was a possibility which had never entered the lawyer's long list of calamities, and he was at some loss to conceive what the old lady could possibly mean by so sentimental a prolusion.

    St. Ronan's Well

  • In the same prolusion, Strada quotes the "blustering" line, afterwards censured by Dryden; but erroneously reads,

    The works of John Dryden, $c now first collected in eighteen volumes. $p Volume 06

  • GREEK LATIN ANGLO-SAXON prolegomenon prologue foreword prophesy predict fortell thesis position placement enchiridion manual handbook prolusion prelude foreplay hyperopia supervision oversight anomalous/anomic illegal unlawful/lawless agnostic nescient unknowing anonymous innominate unnamed

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol X No 2

  • This was a possibility which had never entered the lawyer’s long list of calamities, and he was at some loss to conceive what the old lady could possibly mean by so sentimental a prolusion.

    Saint Ronan's Well

  • The Pope’s speech was a prolusion, an inaugural speech, delivered to an assembly of faculty and students at the beginning of the new academic year.

    The Pope’s speech

  • Milton could write poeti - cally in the Arcades (lines 72-73) of this music “which none can hear/Of human mould with grosse unpurged ear,” but in his prolusion “On the Music of the

    Dictionary of the History of Ideas

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