—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.
3. Music. a. a relatively short, independent instrumental composition, free in form and resembling an improvisation.
b. a piece that precedes a more important movement.
c. the overture to an opera.
d. an independent piece, of moderate length, sometimes used as an introduction to a fugue.
e. 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.