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"Prepone" is a great word - it's the opposite of "postpone". I was wondering if it was beginning to spread around the world at all.

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An interesting word indeed. I have recently started using postcede as the opposite to precede, but I doubt that's gaining any traction outside of my own vocabulary, and gains me a few weird looks when I use it. –  Vincent McNabb Aug 14 '10 at 1:00
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@Vincent: there is "follow" for that, but I can't think of any equivalent of "prepone". –  delete Aug 14 '10 at 3:18
    
@Shinto - yeah, I know - but I like "postcede" purely for its quirkiness. Don't worry, I would never put it in a business email :-) –  Vincent McNabb Aug 14 '10 at 10:37
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sounds too much like propane –  Midhat Oct 1 '10 at 14:35
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Closely related question: How do I say “Our meeting is preponed”?. –  ShreevatsaR Nov 12 '10 at 9:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

There is exactly one incidence for prepone in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, from this Christian Science Monitor article, which reads:

IN India, people created the word “prepone” as the obvious opposite of postpone. On the Internet, a form of cyber-English has sprouted with such words as “net-surfing.”

(I hope it surprises no one that this citation is from 1995—eons ago in Internet time).

More recently, in 2008 the Monitor published this article discussing prepone in much more detail.

So it does not appear that prepone has much currency outside of India. I have heard it in my day-to-day business on occasion here in the United States in the software development industry—from my colleagues from India.

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The New Oxford American Dictionary doesn't report prepone as existing word. Wiktionary reports is only used in India.

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Interesting - just had a look at three advanced learner's dictionaries - it's in the Oxford and Macmillan, but not in the Cambridge. –  Evan Aug 16 '10 at 8:07
    
Oxford now has prepone :) oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/prepone –  mikhailcazi Oct 12 '13 at 11:30

Cant you just say "pull forward" or "advance"?

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Well, spatial metaphors for time can be too confusing. Note that "advance", as in "advance the pawn/troops", actually means "push away", which seems the opposite of "prepone". –  ShreevatsaR Nov 12 '10 at 9:45

OED explains that the etymology is from the classical Latin word praepōnere:

pre- and pōnere- to place

This gives the word its (now) obsolete meaning of to place in front of or to set before. The later use of this word to refer almost exclusively to placements in time is said to be most frequent in Indian English.

Thus contrary to popular belief it is not an Indian neologism but has Latin roots similar to the well known antonym.

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protected by RegDwigнt Jun 13 '12 at 20:59

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