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1. Something spoken as introductory to a discourse, or written as introductory to a book or essay; a proem; an introduction, or series of preliminary remarks. This superficial tale Is but a preface of her worthy praise. (Shak) Heaven's high behest no preface needs. (milton)

2. The prelude or introduction to the canon of the mass.

(Science: engineering) proper preface, a portion of the communion service, preceding the prayer of consecration, appointed for certain seasons.

Synonym: Introduction, preliminary, preamble, proem, prelude, prologue.

Origin: F. Preface; cf. Sp. Prefacio, prefacion, It. Prefazio, prefazione; all fr. L. Praefatio, fr. Praefari to speak or say beforehand; prae = before _ fari, fatus, to speak. See Fate.