Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd. See Synonyms at foolish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Absurd, or contrary to common sense.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having that first which ought to be last; inverted in order.
  • adj. Contrary to nature or reason; not adapted to the end; utterly and glaringly foolish; unreasonably absurd; perverted.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having that last which ought to be first; reversed in order or arrangement; inverted.
  • Contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; irrational; glaringly absurd; nonsensical.
  • Foolish; ridiculous; stupid; absurd.
  • Synonyms and Silly, Foolish, etc. (see absurd), monstrous, crazy, mad, wild, ludicrous. See foolish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. incongruous;inviting ridicule

Etymologies

From Latin praeposterus, inverted, unseasonable : prae-, pre- + posterus, coming behind (from post, behind; see apo- in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin praeposterus ("with the hinder part before, reversed, inverted, perverted"), from prae ("before") + posterus ("coming after"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Mr. Pawlenty attributed the current impasse on what he called "preposterous" proposed spending increases.

    Minnesota's Woes Shadow Pawlenty

  • I knew Aunt Agatha would be taking advantage of my long absence to retail what she termed my preposterous scheme to Uncle Keith, and that I should have the benefit of his opinion on my return, and this thought made me restless.

    The Girl's Own Paper, Vol. VIII, No. 354, October 9, 1886

  • How preposterous is Congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence?

    Pssst. There's a Covert . . .

  • She must not put faith in preposterous representations, nor may facts within her observation show the representations to be so obviously false that to rely on them requires closing her eyes to the truth.

    Archive 2009-03-01

  • The test question is this: If the idea of abandoning the present highway system and constructing a new one from scratch is economically preposterous, would it not remain preposterous if one substituted “existing power plants” for “interstate highway system” and “windmills and solar power collectors” for “tunnels”?

    Stromata Blog:

  • People dress up in preposterous costumes, drink large quantities of beer, and take part in -- or toast -- the parade floats that every self-respecting town puts on.

    Boing Boing: July 9, 2006 - July 15, 2006 Archives

  • I do apologize for misplacing the r in preposterous, though I imagine you quite understood what I meant.

    Corrections « BuzzMachine

  • I am here using the word preposterous in its dictionary sense of "contrary to nature, reason or commonsense," for in the light of modern scientific knowledge, human behavior is, demonstrably, characterized by the interaction of cultural and biological variables, and, as Melvin Konner has recently put it "an analysis of the causes of human nature that tends to ignore either the genes or the environmental factors may be safely discarded."

    Evolving Margaret Mead

  • While the prosecution argues that Dunn and his team manipulated the books to claim the bonuses, the defense said such a fraud would have required the acquiescence of hundreds of accountants at both Nortel and Deloitte, an idea it called "preposterous."

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • (AP) polymath22 US: NKorean war damages claim 'preposterous' - The

    Gaea Times (by Simple Thoughts) Breaking News and incisive views 24/7

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