9

As Merriam-Webster notes, to prepone meaning “to move to an earlier time” is widely used by India's English speakers, but largely unheard outside the subcontinent.

Interestingly, the term was used as far back as the early 1500s with a slightly different meaning, “to place in front of, to set before,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Here’s an example from a religious text from 1549:

  • I do prepone and set the Lord alwaye before myne eyes.

The first usage instance in the current sense appears to be from a New York Times article in 1913, according to the following site:

To the editor of the New York Times: For the benefit mainly of the legal profession in this age of hurry and bustle may I be permitted to coin the word ‘PREPONE’ as a needed rival of that much revered and oft-invoked standby, ‘postpone.’ John J. D. Trenor, New York, Dec. 5, 1913— ‘New York Times,’ 7 December

Trenor is clearly proposing a neologism, which, in my opinion, might have been inspired by common foreign counterparts such as the French préposer, the Italian preporre.

The same site suggests also that:

Barring a few stray examples, most of the citations I've found online are from the '80s onwards and almost all from India. Wiktionary has this line from a 1984 New York Times piece on Indian English:

  • "It is better to make the booking for Tuesday rather than Wednesday so that later you would not have to prepone it," the reservations clerk said with what seemed unassailable linguistic logic.

All this indicates that prepone had entered common usage here by the '80s, and was seen as a typically Indian expression.

(dickandgarlick.blogspot.com)

Given the above information, I'd like to know if the current common usage of prepone in Indian English is actually derived from the few AmE usage instances of the early 20th century, or if, it has an origin on its own, unrelated to both older usages.

What actually sparked the usage of "prepone" in Indian English from the '80s onward?

  • Ah! Wonderful! Debates spark inquires spark insights! I really hope we get a classic Sven Yargs answer on this one. Would it help at all if I gave you the other early attestations from the OED? – Dan Bron Oct 25 '18 at 13:00
  • @DanBron - yes, anything relevant can help. – user240918 Oct 25 '18 at 13:02
  • 1
    Ok, here you go. – Dan Bron Oct 25 '18 at 13:07
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    @DanBron In terms of digital technology, that is a long time. I hadn't even bought my Sinclair Spectrum with all of 48K of RAM. That was in 1984. In terms of language development, however, it is a mere five minutes. I find the English of the late 18th century perfectly intelligible, that of the late 16th/early 17th (Shakespeare, James I bible) a little more difficult. I can just about manage to decipher the Paston Letters (late 15th), but Chaucer (14th) in the original, without a guide, I find almost impossible. However, the Venerable Bede (7th century) would total floor me, I'm sure. – WS2 Oct 25 '18 at 15:11
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    @user240918 Check out this early coinage of the word (1646!) in a comment I left on Laurel’s answer: english.stackexchange.com/questions/470068/… – Dan Bron Oct 25 '18 at 19:17
6

Old dictionaries on 'postpone' and related terms

The words prepone and postpone have been appearing in tandem in English texts for a long time. Their meanings. however, are not what they once were. The surprise here may be the change in postpone. Edward Phillips, The New World of English Words, or a Generall Dictionary (1658) doesn't mention prepone, but has this entry for postpone:

Postpone, (lat.) to set behinde, to esteem lesse then another.

The noun form of postpone, Phillips reports, is postposure:

Postposure, (lat.) a setting behind.

It is easy to see how "to put off doing until a later time" evolved from this earlier meaning of postpone through the application of "esteeming less" or "setting behind [or below]" some other thing to the doing of the less favored thing; ultimately, setting something behind something else temporally could readily come to mean not doing it now, but still intending to do it later.

In any case, Phillips seems to have taken his definition of postpone directly from the entry for postpono in Thomas Thomasius, Dictionarium Lingvæ Latinæ et Anglicanæ (1644):

Postpōno, is,sŭi,sĭtum,ĕre. ... To set behinde, to esteeme lesse, to emit or leave.

Elisha Coles, An English Dictionary: Explaining the Difficult Terms That Are Used... (1676) includes postpose as a variant form of postpone:

Postpone, -pose, l. to set behind, to slight.

Like Phillips, Coles has no entry for prepone—but he does offer one for prepose:

Prepose, to set before.

It thus seems that, in the second half of the seventeenth century, at least some writers had a general sense that prepone (or prepose) and postpone (or postpose) could function as opposites with regard to placement—either physical or in terms of esteem—although no sense had yet emerged in either word with regard to temporal placement.

We see the bridge to the modern sense of postpone partially built in John Kersey, Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum (1706):

To Postpone, to set behind or esteem less, to leave or neglect.

The notion of neglect contains an essential element of time, as it indicates a failure to attend to a thing over some passage of time. Significantly, Kersey doesn't mention postpose, postposure, prepose, or prepone—omissions that free postpone to evolve without being explicitly tied to these terms. The breakthrough then comes with Thomas Dyche & William Pardon, A New General English Dictionary (1735):

POSTPONE (V.) To put back, or behind, to delay, defer, or put off, from one Time to another.

Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language (1756) affirms the shift in meaning, making the temporal one the first definition:

To POSTPONE. v. a. {postpono, Lat. postposer, Fr.} 1. To put off ; to delay. [Cited example:] You wou'd postpone me to another reign, / Till when you are content to be unjust. Dryden. 2. To set in value below something else. [Cited example:] The most trifling amusement is suffered to postpone the one thing necessary. Rogers.

The quotation from Dryden comes from his poem "The Hind and the Panther" (1701), and clearly has a temporal aspect. Johnson includes a brief entry for prepose as well ("To PREPOSE. ... To put before."), but he offers nothing for prepone. And his second definition of postpone specifically associates that meaning with evaluation, rather than with physical placement, which might have suggested a closer tie between postpone and postposition (the counterpart of preposition).


'Prepone' and 'postpone' in the 1600s

As elaborated above, postpone in the seventeenth century referred to positioning or esteeming something behind or below something else. It would follow that prepone in this same era meant positioning or esteeming something in front of or above something else. It is in those senses of the two words that we should understand instances where both occur together in writings of this period. I found three such instances from the 1600s. From Richard Ward, Theologicall Qvestions, Dogmaticall Observations, and Evangelicall Essays, vpon The Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Matthew (1640):

First, there are Spirituall graces given unto us by God, which we must give account unto him of, as

I. The word, and the preaching thereof, John 12.48. Hebr. 2.3. And herein two things are to be examined, viz.

First, how we love it, and whether we prepone or postpone other things before it?

Secondly, how doe we apply the word, doe we make it a Rule, a Ballance, a Touch-stone, applying it to our words, workes, and thoughts? In a word, doe we direct our lives thereby?

This instance is quoted in William Prynne, Canterburies doome, or, The first part of a compleat history of the commitment, charge, tryall, condemnation, execution of William Laud, late Arch-bishop of Canterbury (1646), which Dan Bron cites in a comment beneath Laurel's answer.

The second instance is from The Unerring and Unerrable Church, Or, an Answer to a Sermon Preached by Mr. Andrew Sall, formerly a Iesuit, and now a Minister of the Protestant Church (1675):

Therefore, for a full satisfaction of those that desire to know and embrace truth I diuide this treatise into two Parts ; in the first I will proue the Necessity of a liuing infallible Iudge of Controuersies, and proue it to be the Roman Catholick Church. In the second I will examine those pretẽded Errors, which he fastens on our Church ; and will endeauor to leaue nothing vnanswered that he obiects against vs, though I may prepone or postpone his arguments as the Methode of my discourse requires.

The third instance is from George Mackenzie, Scotland's Herauldrie (1680), describing King Charles I's establishment of the Order of Baronet in Scotland in 1625:

And that they should be always Called, Intituled, and Designed be the name and title of Baronet, and that in all Scottish Speeches and writings, the addition of Sir, and in all other discourses and writings, a word signifying the same should be preponed to their names and other titles, and the stile and title of Baronet should be postponed and subjoyned thereto in all Letters-patents, and other writes whatsomever, as a necessar addition of Dignity, and that each of them should be intituled, Sir A. B. Baronet, and his, and his Sons Wives, should enjoy the stile, title, and appellation of Lady, Madam, and Dame, respectively, according to the usual phrase in speaking and writing.

This last example uses prepone and postpone in an especially physical sense, as of appending something before or appending it after the thing one started with. Thus, Mackenzie says, starting with the name A. B., we prepone Sir and postpone Baronet to it.


Later instances where 'prepone' and 'postpone' occur in tandem

Looking through search results between 1750 and 1980, I found several instances where the terms appear in tandem.

From "Churchill agt. Dibben" (1753[?]), in The English Reports, volume 96, King's Bench Division 25 (1909):

Though this is not an habendum, it ought to receive the same construction. It is exactly the case of Cole v. Rawlinson, Salk. 234, only there the words of limitation preceded the last part of the premises ; Lord Holt thought, the devisee ought to take only an estate for life in those, because the word "heirs" could not be carried forward, but the other three judges thought it the same, whether preponed or postponed : this, however, is stronger, for here the words of limitation follow the whole. No objection can arise from the words "executors, &c." for as the words "for ever," alone would carry a fee, the addition of executors, &c. can make no difference, and therefore the fee, I am of opinion, belongs to Thomas Churchill.

The legal sense of preponed in the example above is more or less "put before" or "put forward first," but the exact sense of the term isn't obvious, given the technical complications of the will or estate in which it is involved from one case to another. In any event, prepone appears with some frequency in legal analysis of testators' intentions in the middle 1700s.

From Charles Leadbetter, The Royal Gauger; Or, Gauging Made Perfectly Easy (1755):

N. B. And in Stocking any exciseable Liquors, write (F) to a full Cask or Vessel ; and (00) to an empty one. AND when the wet or dry Inches are even, and less than 10, you are to place a Cypher before and after, thus, 09.0 ; and if more than 10, only after them, thus, 19.0 ; and if less than one Inch, thus, 005, where your Columns will admit of it ; or there is Room to alter your true Gauge by preponing or postponing any Figure.

From Johann Zimmermann, A Grammatical Sketch of the Akra- Or Gã-Language, volume 1 (1858):

Combination and Syntax (only different because in the former words combined are written together, in the latter they are left separate) is in general the same as in Gã, if the different forms are duly taken into account; the verb forms the centre with which all the other words and parts of speech organically are combined; either in a subjective or objective relation to it; the subject or object may again be defined by a preponed or postponed noun or pronoun or a postponed adjective, and the verb by an other verb, or an only grammatical subject or object; ...

Here and in the Leadbetter quotation, as in King Charles's creation of Scottish baronets earlier, preponing and postponing seem centrally concerned with the placement of words or word elements in relation to the central or core name or word. Notably, Zimmermann uses preponed on five other occasions in this book to indicate forward positioning of word components.

From W. Shaw, "Notices and Actions of Removal under the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act 1907 (7 Ed. VII. cap. 51)," in The Scots Law Times (July 4, 1908):

The calling of heritable creditors is new. So is the calling of the holders of real burdens, if that is the meaning of "ground burdens" (a colloquial term), and so is the provision for the expense of a search. Notwithstanding the words of the proviso, the creditors whose debts have been discharged will not be called. It is impossible to guess what is meant by "postponed" ground burdens; the author of the expression must have been at sea, because the proviso applies to all existing heritable debts and thus to prior, posterior, preponed, postponed, and pari passu holders of heritable debts. Postponed to what? The calling applies not merely to the holders of existing heritable debts and burdens created within the twenty years of the search, but to assignees of prior heritable debts and burdens as disclosed by the search. Practice will apply the proviso to registered long leases.

From "Doings of the Director," in Onward: The Journal of the Universalist Young People (June 24, 1921):

I really think the Rutland Union likes to have me around. Whenever I come they get the next place on my itinerary to cancel the date so that I can stay with them an extra day. This time they not only did that, but they preponed (or whatever is the opposite of postponed) their annual banquet and business so that I could attend. It will be held tonight instead of Wednesday.

Here we have a thoroughly modern use of preponed as an intentional opposite of postponed in a scheduling sense. It is indistinguishable in intention from the 1913 New York Times instance noted in the original question.


Instances of 'prepone' between 1750 and 1913

Although the OED, according to Laurel, has no citations for prepone between 1750 and 1913, various database searches turn up several. From "Worsley versus Earl of Granville, July 9, 1751," in Cases Argued and Determined in the High Court of Chancery, in the Time of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, from the Year 1746–7 to 1755, third edition (1788):

For defendant. This settlement, made in pursuance of articles, shall have as liberal a construction to favour the general intent to provide for daughters as well as sons of the marriage. The wife's portion is generally made the settlement for younger children: but this is not made in the common method, as there is no provision for younger children in general: and it is particular, that though it is a provision for daughters only, which generally succeeds the limitation to the first and every other son, this term is preponed thereto. By the argument for plaintiff this settlement should have no effect, nor any portion at all raised, because there was a son, who attained twenty-one; but the term was not to commence until after the death of Sir Robert, and nothing was to rise until it commenced, nor could the contingencies before be material. As all the issue-male died in life of Sir Robert, whether they had or not issue-male, or whether they died under twenty-one, is immaterial to the question whether the estate shall be charged or not with potions.

From John Mathews, A Treatise on the Law of Portions and Provisions for Children of the Nature of Portions (1829):

Should a term, for example, for raising portions for younger children, be inserted subsequently to a limitation to the first and other sons in tail,—so that the term is defeasible by law,—equity will interfere, and rectify the settlement by altering the order of the limitations, and preponing the term to the estate tail. So, if a deed be uncertainly worded, and it does not distinctly appear in the event that has happened, whether or not a term by which daughters' fortunes are secured has arisen, yet if it be manifest that the daughters were really meant to be provided for, the obscurity of expression will give way to the obvious intention, and the term be considered as vested in possession.

From George Jeremy, A Treatise on the Equity Jurisdiction of the High Court of Chancery, second American edition (1840):

And if by a settlement in pursuance of articles, a term of years should have been created to secure the younger children's portions, but the same should in order have been placed after the disposition to the first and other sons in tail-male, the term would, to speak technically, be preponed, that is, placed before the estates-tail, that the same may be effectual to the purpose intended.

From Proteus, Social Influences: or Villiers, volume 1 (1846):

"Are you certain," interrogated Villiers, "the choice is not of a petty failing to a splendid good?"

It told: but tacitly.

"Who prepones not a meerschaum to a dhudyeen? Who (puffs) not Havannah in lieu of Pig-tail? Who envies not a Villiers and a St. Leger more than yon drowsy interloper or yon aproned fag?"

From A. Bourquin, "Dharmasindhu, or the Ocean of Religious Rites, by the Priest Kashianatha," read November 8, 1882, published in Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Asiatic Society (1883):

When the 12th Tithi stretches only a little after sunrise, (and there i thus not time enough) for the rites of that Tithi which ought to be performed up to Midday, then should one anticipate and perform those rite during the latter part of the night. Some say, however, that the morning oblation to the Fire should not be preponed. The sacrificial rites for dead ancestors being forbidden by night, they cannot thus be anticipated.

This last instance is quite interesting because (1) it was published in India, and (2) it uses prepone to mean something very much like "reschedule forward."


Non-Indian instances of 'prepone' after 1913

I found a number of instances of prepone in non-Indian usage between 1913 and 1980. Here is a sampling. From Maurice Kelly, "Milton's Use of 'Begot in 'Paradise Lost' V, 603," in Studies in Philology (1941):

This suggestion ["the analogy of rebellion against an earthly sovereign"] Milton made the motivating force of his epic, and to set it forth in the feigned image of poetry, he again, as in Books VI and III, took liberties with the strict chronology of the De doctrina. Without sanction or authority of his own systematic theology, he preponed to a period before the foundation of the world certain dogmatic matters connected with the accession of Christ to the mediatorial office of king; and at the very beginning of his fable, he invented a new poetic action in which the Father pronounces his only Son ruler over the angelic hierarchies. Paradise Lost V, 603–06, therefore, has no actual place in the dogma of the De doctrina. It is rather a theological fiction introduced by Milton to give a motivating force to his epic—to furnish Satan with an excuse for resentment; ...

From Social Science (June 1952) [combined snippets]:

What occurred in those two sudden waves of spending was a pronounced preponement of consumer spending. Later, in 1951, there was the opposite phenomenon, a substantial slowing down of consumer spending. The first was a major factor contributing to the inflationary rise of prices in 1950 and early 1951; the second of the leveling or decline of prices that took place later in 1951.

From Central Conference of American Rabbis, CCAR Journal, issues 1–14 (1953) [combined snippets]:

Where mothers are not permitted to remain in the hospital for eight days, arrangements should nevertheless be made to have the Bris Milah on the eighth day.

If the health of the infant, or an equally serious emergency requires postponement or preponement, the Brit should be performed as close to the eighth day as the situation permits. In neither event, however, should it take place on the Sabbath or Holyday. However, it may take place on the days between the first and seventh days of Passover or Sukos—the days of "Chol Ha'moed."

From "Childhood Cancer (Tumors, Leukemia, & Hodgkin's Disease)," in Wilburt Davison & Jeana Levinthal, The Compleat Pediatrician: Practical Diagnostic, Therapeutic and Preventive Pediatrics (1957) [combined snippets]:

It is possible that infections, irritation, radiation (x-ray, atomic energy, sunlight, &c.) may precipitate or prepone the onset of cancer or leukemia in individuals c an hereditary trait at an earlier age than it would have developed s radiation or irritation. For example, among the older radiologists, before protection against radiation was as well understood as at present, 5% of the deaths were due to leukemia, in contrast to 0.3% among physicians who had little or no contact c radiation.

From Thomas Middleton, unidentified article in World magazine (July 4, 1972) [combined snippets]:

"Now," he said, "suppose you wanted to change the date of a football game from October 15th to October 14th. You sign it like this." He moved the imaginary cribbage pegs toward his body. 'That's the opposite of postpone. How do you say it in English? Is there a word?"

I don't think there is. There's certainly no such word as "prepone." The best way to say it is "move ahead": "The game has been moved ahead from the 15th to the 14th."


Early Indian instances of 'prepone'

From All India Reporter, part 7 (1929):

When it appears from facts that through generations a property has been possessed in n certain single line, it can never be said that it lies upon that line to establish that it was dissociated generations ago from another line which appears on the scene as a claimant and prepones no facts of jointness, such as living in the same home, sharing in food or worship, or quoad estate participating in the enjoyment or fruits thereof.

From All India Reporter, issue 6 (1960) [combined snippets]:

No explanation is forthcoming on the record of the Court below as to why and in what circumstances this preponement of the date for the announcement of orders was effected.

From Bulletin of the Indian Society for Malaria & Other Communicable Diseases, volumes 3–4 (1966):

In June and July equal number of cases occurred and in the later months the incidence decreased to reach the base level in December. The incidence curve in 1957 in its first half resembles a curve in the epidemic years with a 2-3 months preponement. The duration of the epidemic is spread over two months, a period longer than that of the previous epidemic years.

From Central Food Technological Research Institute (India), Annual Report (1968):

Climacteric maximum was recorded on the 9th day at room temperature storage in 2 commercial varieties of mangoes when harvested at optimal maturity. This peak was preponed by 2 days in hot water-treated fruits. Climacteric maximum was preponed with advance in maturity and was postponed when the fruits were physiologically immature.

From the Indian Journal of Medical Education, volume 10 (1971) [combined snippets]:

Nevertheless, with happenstance therapy, the hallmarks of early V.D., faded out on the surface, only to cause the infection to sink beneath the horizon of clinical recognition, and forestall a preponed clinical disaster.

From the [New Delhi] Public Enterprise Recorder, volume 3 (1971) [combined snippets]:

Employees whose increment dates fall between 1st January and 30th June will get their increments preponed to 1st January and the rest will get their increments preponed to 1st July.

And from India Parliament, House of the People, Lok Sabha Debates (1972) [combined snippets]:

SHRI B. V. NAIK : May we know whether there is any possibility of further 'preponing' the date of commissioning of the Vijaynagar and Visakhapatnam plants?

SHRI S. MOHAN KUMARAMANGA-LAM : I am not quite sure about the meaning of that English word 'preponing', but I presume that it means that he wants to bring it forward. So far as 'preponing' is concerned, every effort is always being made to 'prepone'.

MR. SPEAKER : 'Poning' is the common thing between the two.

SHRI S. A. SHAMIM : I hope that this is not unparliamentry. I hope you will find that out.


Conclusions

Although dictionaries have given scant attention to prepone and its close relatives over the years, and although the OED evidently treats it as having died out in its original sense of "put forward" around the middle of the eighteenth century and treats its more recent meaning of "reschedule to occur sooner than originally planned" as being primarily an Indian English word of the past forty years, book and periodical databases yield quite a few matches—including between 1750 and 1913.

With regard to user240918's original questions:

1. Is the current common usage of prepone in Indian English derived from the few AmE usage instances of the early 20th century, or did it originate on its own, unrelated to older usages?

English writers have treated prepone and postpone as natural complements (and often, opposites) for hundreds of years. I found unique instances of such oppositional usage in texts from 1640, 1675, 1680, 1753, 1755, 1858, 1908, 1921, 1953, 1968, 1971, and 1972 (twice); and user240918 quotes a 1913 instance that the OED cites. The main split in complementary meanings is between the "set in front/above" and "set behind/below" pair of the period from 1640 to 1908 and the "rescheduled to an earlier time" and "rescheduled to a later time" pair of the period from 1913 to the present.

Some vestigial memory of the earlier sense of prepone may have influenced the U.S. writers who first used the word in its modern sense. I think it's more likely, though, that each of them—in 1913, 1921, 1953, and 1972—independently (and with varying degrees of enthusiasm) arrived at prepone as a potential single word meaning "reschedule to an earlier time."

Meanwhile, prepone continued to appear (rarely) in mid-twentieth-century writing in its old sense of "put forward, advance, or accelerate," especially as a medical term.

2. What actually sparked the usage of "prepone" in Indian English from the '80s onward?

The first India-related instance of prepone that I found is from a translation of Dharmasindhu, published in 1883 in Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Asiatic Society. However, the next instance I found of prepone (in the same sense) in Indian English was from 1960, a gap of 77 years. Further complicating the picture are instances in Indian English texts from 1929 (law) and 1971 (medicine) that use prepone in its older, nonscheduling sense of "put forward."

Instances of prepone in the scheduling sense appear with increasing frequency after the 1960 instance. But evidently, from the banter about "poning" in the 1972 Indian Parliamentary debates, the term was not well established in everyday speech even at that date. I couldn't find a triggering cause for popular adoption of the term in Indian English, but the usage was clearly gaining strength by the very early 1970s.

5

Etymology

The etymology can be summarized in a single ASCII diagram like so:

            -- praepōnere (L) -- prepone "put in front of" (obsolete)
          /
pōnere (L) 
          \ 
            -- postpōnere (L) -- postpone -- prepone "move to an earlier time"

In other words, the prepone meaning "put in front of" and the one meaning "move to an earlier time" are different words with different etymologies, albeit homophones with a common ancestor.

This is why the words have separate OED pages (although the blog neglected to mention it). The reasons why these two different prepones are not considered to be directly related are:

  • They have different meanings. As far as I can tell, Latin praepōnere only means "place in command, in front of or before". The definition "move to an earlier time" is clearly an antonym of postpone.
  • The one (meaning "put in front of") was obsolete well before the other was created. In fact, it doesn't seem like it was even common because I don't get any Google Books hits for "prepone" except in languages other than English. The last citation of the word in the OED is from 1750. In contrast, the earliest citation of prepone "move to an earlier time" in the OED is from 1913 (from earlier in the same article your source quotes).

Indian English?

The OED indicates that it only became an Indian English thing later on:

In later use, most frequent in Indian English.

It has several examples that aren't from Indian English:

  • 1
    Too few instance usages to be a convincing theory that the same “Indian” term was actually imported from America rather than coined directly in India with no real connection to the American one. That’s the core of the question. – user240918 Oct 25 '18 at 18:34
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    In terms of coinages, I just found a very deep antedating for this word, unambiguously using the gloss in question, using Early English Books Online (EEBO) via the BYU interface. You can see the entire context in this screenshot, but it’s from X and the relevant portion is from a 1646 volume by , William Prynne, title starting “Canterburies doome, or ...”: how doe we love the word? whether doe we prepone or postpone other things before it?..... – Dan Bron Oct 25 '18 at 19:15
  • Well, I submitted the antedating to the OED. We'll see if it ever shows up. Meanwhile, I think mentioning it would be a useful addition to your answer. – Dan Bron Oct 26 '18 at 12:11
  • @DanBron There's a huge gap between that example and the 1913 example, so it looks like prepone in the sense "move to an earlier time" entered the language at least twice (once in your example, once in 1913). – Laurel Oct 26 '18 at 16:18
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    @DanBron, I suspect the fault may lie in the OED's etymology; I'm finding more of a continuum and development of senses; for example this from 1880: "Coath told him to postpone and prepone receipts and payments in his shop cash book." The sense in context is clearly postdate and predate. – JEL Oct 28 '18 at 22:18

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