Skip to main content


fore- prefix meaning ‘before’, identical with the adv. fore in front, before, OE. fore = OS., OHG. fora (Du. voor, G. vor), Goth. faura, perh. :- Gmc. *forai, corr. to Gr. paraī, a dative formation, the base of which is repr. also in L. prō, prǣ, per (see PER-, PRE-, PRO-1), Gr. pró, pará, peri (see PARA-1, PERI-), Skr. purā́ before.

A few of the foll. comps. had orig. the prefix FOR-2.

forearm1 arm beforehand. XVI. forearm2 part of the arm below the elbow. XVIII. forecast †contrive beforehand XIV; estimate beforehand XVI.
Hence as sb. XV. forecastle (whence the sp. fo'c'sle) †short raised deck in the bow, orig. a castle-like structure to command the enemy's decks XIV; fore part of a ship XV. forefather XIII. — ON. forfaðir, forefinger XV. forefoot XIV. forefront principal face, foremost part (now dial. exc. fig.). XV (orig. Sc.). foregoing XV. foregone that has gone before. XVI. foreground XVII. forehead OE. forhēofod = MLG. vorhōved, Du. voorhoofd, G. vor(der)haupt. forejudge XVI. foreknowledge XVI. Cf. foreknow XIV. foreland cape, promontory. XIV. forelock OE. foreloccas pl.; but a new formation in XVI. foreman †leader XV; principal juror; principal of workmen XVI; perh. after ON. formaðr captain, leader, or — Du. voorman, forename XVI. forenoon XV. forepart XIV. forerunner one who goes before to prepare the way (first of John the Baptist) XIII; one whom another follows XVI; tr. L. præcursor PRECURSOR. foresail XV. foresee OE. forsēon; but prob. a new formation in ME. foreshore XVIII. foreshorten XVII. foreshow XVI. foresight †(divine) providence XIII; provision for the future XIV; action of foreseeing or looking forward XV; prob. after ON. forsjá, and later felt as etym. rendering of (O)F. providence, L. prōvidentia. foreskin XVI. forestall †obstruct XIV; buy up (goods) before they reach public markets XIV; hinder by anticipation, anticipate in action XVI. Implied earlier in AL. forstallatio obstruction, forstallator (XII), AN. forstallour forestaller of markets (XIII), f. OE. for(e)steall interception, ambush, foretaste sb. and vb. XV. foretell XIII. forethought †premeditation; previous thought. XIII. parallel to †forethink, OE. foreðnċan consider beforehand, and repl. OE. foreðanc consideration, forethought, providence. foretop †lock of hair at the front XIII; †forepart of the crown XIV; top of a foremast XV. forewarn warn beforehand. OE. forewarnian (trans. and intr.). foreword XIX.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"fore-." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . 26 Jun. 2019 <>.

"fore-." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . (June 26, 2019).

"fore-." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved June 26, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.