Student Dictionary

One entry found for preposterous.
Main Entry: pre·pos·ter·ous
Pronunciation: pri-primarystresspäs-t(schwa-)rschwas
Function: adjective
Etymology: from Latin praeposterus, literally, "having the rear part in front," from prae- "in front, before" and posterus "coming behind, following"
: making little or no sense : ABSURD
- pre·pos·ter·ous·ly adverb
- pre·pos·ter·ous·ness noun
Word History The familiar expression "putting the cart before the horse" comes very close to the literal sense of the word preposterous. The Romans formed their Latin adjective praeposterus from prae-, meaning "before," and posterus, meaning "following." They at first used it to mean "having that first which ought to be last," like having a cart ahead of the horse that is pulling it. Praeposterus was used to describe something that was out of the normal or logical order or position. From this developed the more general sense of "ridiculous, absurd." These meanings were borrowed into English in the 16th century. Although preposterous is seldom used in its literal sense nowadays, we still use it to describe something that seems so unreasonable as to be ridiculous.

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