Definition of preterition in English:



mass noun
  • 1The action of passing over or disregarding a matter, especially the rhetorical technique of mentioning something by professing to omit it.

    ‘the favourite rhetorical trope of the historical novelists is preterition, saying that you are not going to say something and thereby saying it’
    count noun ‘he made successive preteritions’
    • ‘If Iago / Janus sees backward, he also most of the time speaks backward through the use of preterition or chiasmus, in which the language is turned at one and the same time both ways, towards the right and towards the left.’
    • ‘That, dear readers, was as fine an example of preterition as you're likely to see on the Internet on a Wednesday morning.’
    • ‘New England settlers, true believers in election and preterition, helped found a country where free will is given vast rein.’
  • 2(in Calvinist theology) the state of not being predestined to salvation.


Late 16th century from late Latin praeteritio(n-), from praeterire ‘pass, go by’.