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Meaning of prelude

prel•ude

Pronunciation: (prel'yd, prāl'-, prā'ld, prē'-), [key]
— n., v., -ud•ed, -ud•ing.
—n.
  1. a preliminary to an action, event, condition, or work of broader scope and higher importance.
  2. any action, event, comment, etc. that precedes something else.
    1. a relatively short, independent instrumental composition, free in form and resembling an improvisation.
    2. a piece that precedes a more important movement.
    3. the overture to an opera.
    4. an independent piece, of moderate length, sometimes used as an introduction to a fugue.
    5. music opening a church service; an introductory voluntary.
—v.t.
  1. to serve as a prelude or introduction to.
  2. to introduce by a prelude.
  3. to play as a prelude.
—v.i.
  1. to serve as a prelude.
  2. to give a prelude.
  3. to play a prelude.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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