Nancy Gandhi at under the fire star makes note of an interesting word used in Indian English:

to prepone – example: The Friday meeting has been preponed to Thursday morning. (This word is succinct and useful. It deserves a place in English languages everywhere. I urge everyone who reads this to adopt it and help it grow.)

I agree with her. And through an entry in The Atlantic‘s “Word Fugitives” archives, we learn:

The word ‘prepone’ is found in The New Oxford Dictionary of English, published 1998. It is listed as being Indian (from India) and is defined as: to bring forward to an earlier date or time. Example given: The publication date has been preponed from July to June.

So there we have it: the word is listed in a dictionary, it’s well formed, and it’s unquestionably useful; I hereby welcome it to the English vocabulary!


  1. Amazing. Just yesterday my wife (who is from India) used this very word, and we had a discussion about whether it was “Indian English” or not. The confusing thing is that I often can’t tell what is Indian English, and what is British English. I’m glad to see that the New Oxford clearly establishes its Indian origins!
    One thing I tried to clarify was the difference between “prepone” and “to meet earlier than planned”. It seems that prepone carries the connotation of an official rescheduling, rather than just a change in time. Very useful indeed!

  2. I thought everybody said move up. No?

  3. Everybody except, apparently, the Indians. And now me.

  4. Oops, I should’ve been more explicit. I meant in the States, and was thinking prepone doesn’t exactly fill a gap.

  5. I’ve heard move up used in opposite senses.

  6. There is that, but it’s the opposite of move back, which I don’t think anyone would confuse. It’s not like asking whether “turn the a.c. up” means make it run harder and cool more or set it to a higher temperature. Yes, I’ve had that discussion.

  7. Bring and take: Is it bring (from) and take (to) or bring (to) and take (from) : the latinised Indian version is perfectly precise. Prepone it is.

  8. a ditty : not witty
    once upon a time
    there was a man named Capone
    who tried to postpone
    a trip to the courthouse,
    but then there was Ness
    who said no! we must prepone
    otherwise there would be a mess

  9. Today, I went to the airport and asked a lady at the counter to “prepone” my confirmed ticket. She looked at me for some time & asked me if “prepone” was actually a word!!!! I was shocked & searched the net for it. I do feel that it is a very useful word…but make sure to use it only in India!!!!!

  10. dr. tobot hope that end of the universe is not preponed as a result !!!! that would be a devastation

  11. One of my Indian co-workers used the word in the sense of “edit an entry in a scheduling database table to an earlier date”. I was delighted and immediately understood what he meant. I wasn’t sure at the time whether it was his own nonce-coinage or if he had heard it used before.

  12. Srinidhi says

    I argued with one of my family freinds, who was correcting my english for the usage of “Prepone”.
    We Indians have all the rights to introduce a handy and an easy word.

  13. You certainly do.

  14. Shashank- Chakri says

    this piece of info was very useful, thanks.

  15. recently in a presentation on telcommunication regulations in India one of the slides said that “A preponement of the new regulation is expected to meet the demands of the market”. This makes sense in this environemnet as most people pre-pay their phone bill rather than paying their bill after invoiced or … post-paying!!??

  16. I was always correcting my friends here not to use the word ‘prepone’ as it is not even a word. Well, I guess its time to let that go 🙂

  17. Hey, Now they have heard of it in Canada too!! Soon everyone around the Globe will be using it. Good work Indians!!!

  18. Can someone please advise how to post on this site for comment on a new word? Thank you.

  19. What word did you want comment on?

  20. I am an old fossil, and don’t think that “prepone” fills a linguistic gap.
    It doesn’t say anything more that “bring forward”.
    For me, the main function of language in everyday situations is to convey meaning, so I recommend the avoidance of words your listener is unlikely to understand.
    “Being in the dictionary” (or in this case, one dictionary) is by itself no recommendation for use.

  21. Nizam Shaikh says

    I have used this word in a meeting yesterday and realized that prepone is not a word in American English. Not yet!!! But like GURU, CHUTNY and MASALA over a period of time PREPONE will be part of the American English. You don’t have to like it or use it but you may hear it.

  22. Hrishikesh says

    Till date even I didn’t know that prepone is not a regular english word..i used to think its opposite of postpone… i had a debate with a friend (who is also frm India) who pointed out that there is no such word, as a result of which I searched on net and reached this page…but glad to know that now it it included in dictionary…so keep using it 🙂

  23. Dinesh J. Karia says

    The Novermber 2004 issue of Readers’ Digest discusses the word prepone as an unaccepted one in the Western countries. However, there are two reasons to accept it. 1. It is included in Oxford’s Dictionary and 2. Even hearing it first time, one is able to make out its meaning if one knows the word postpone.
    Dinesh J. Karia

  24. I got over my snobbishness very quickly. How could we be so resistant to the evolution of language?
    pre – before
    pone – to put
    It is so logical! It is the opposite of postpone, and far easier than “move forward” or “move up” (which both end expressions a preposition with!).

  25. If the meaning of ‘prepone’ cd be understood even by a first timer rather than asking what it meant, what is the big deal in accepting it. or is the fuss just becos of its indian origin

  26. No, I think the fuss is simply because people don’t like anything they’re not used to; I don’t see how people would even know it was of Indian origin unless they were told.

  27. M. Vidyasagar says

    I am very surprised to see so many postings on the word ‘prepone’. I am trying to write an article and I used the word ‘prepone’ in the very first sentence. Later, when I checked a couple of dictionaries, I was shocked to know that it did not exist in the dictionaries! This has lead me to search on the internet. I have been using the word since my childhood and the word has been in use in colleges and universities where examinations are postponed or preponed for one reason or the other! I think the word must be included in all English language dictionaries.

  28. I agree!

  29. Todor Shopov says

    with Peter we talked about “postpone” and “prepone” in Salzburg. I’m glad I’ve found info on that.

  30. Ok heres another one i heard in india – or rather saw – Billboards screaming that Cellular Connections could be prepaid or ‘postpaid’ !
    Now isnt postpaid=paid ?

  31. So is prepaid. You can pay before or after you buy. Unfortunately, the word “postpaid” already exists, with the opposite meaning: postpaid, “prepaid — (used especially of mail; paid in advance).” It’s not clear, actually, which is meant here: the “or” could mean ‘alternatively’ or ‘in other words.’ Sloppy writing.

  32. Please mail me any Indian English that you know.

  33. I find it very logical and easy to communicate.

  34. We have “advance tax” “advance payment” why not use “advance”? Like, advance the date!

  35. It is a major feature of language that it supports the introduction of improvements. The best thing about propone is that it fosters discussion about variation and how language changes.
    Propone is actually my second learned improvement this month. Earlier, my Japanese teacher used the english word “postposition” to describe words like “to” and “from” (prepositions in english) which occur after the noun, i.e. postposition in Japanese

  36. And there’s a nice symmetry between your new words; a postposition is something that’s postponed, and a preposition is something that’s preponed. (The past participle of Latin praeponere is praepositus.)

  37. While many use “move forward” (prepone) or “push back” (postpone) it has always confused me. I work in the finance field where the term “forward” is used to describe a future time. However, the term “move forward” used to describe going back in the timeline seems like a misnomer to me. Logically, to me “move forward” seems to describe “postpone” and “move backward” seems to describe “prepone”. That is certainly not how it is used by the majority. I was once surprised to realize that “push back” meant to move it further ahead into the future i.e. move forward in time. Confused? Me too!

  38. Is this liek teh smae as prepwned?

  39. Yes. The words are identical.

  40. 1000000magicninjas, I like your style.

  41. Thats a great word. On a tangent, I’ve seen indians wrongly using the word ‘crib’ for ‘complain’. Many of my friends and co-workers use it. Like for instance .. “he was cribbing about the low wages”. Is there a different meaning to the word ‘crib’ ??

  42. Yes, there is, and they’re using it perfectly correctly. From the OED entry:
    9. a. intr. Of horses: To practise crib-biting.
    1864 in WEBSTER. 1892 Field 26 Nov. 820/2 No horse would crib after using this strap.
    b. To complain, to grumble. colloq. Cf. crib-biter.
    1925 in FRASER & GIBBONS Soldier & Sailor Words. 1957 L. P. HARTLEY Hireling xi. 90 She calls on the neighbours, she’s out half the time and doesn’t answer the telephone, and when I start cribbing she just laughs.

  43. hey guys the exact word is expedite

  44. Another word that I think originates from India is “updation” – which is to update as insertion is to insert and deletion is to delete. I’ve found it used a lot in Indian IT companies.

  45. I am in Australia & an Indian. Yesterday I used this word with aussie office-mates, & got that expression as expressed in other posts. Thanx to this log, looks like I am not the only one 😉

  46. Wow! “Updation” (and its variants) get lots of Google hits:
    Web: 66,700
    Usenet: 3,990
    Images: 385
    News: 9
    It’s been used on Usenet since at least September 1989
    I think we may have to count it as a word.

  47. Priyanka says

    Very heartily agree with prepone, and for all of you that seem against it, if it has been accepted into the Oxford dictionary, that bastion of the English language and you still don’t think there’s any reason to use it ( i’m sorry??), then you’d have to stop using the English language – it’s only words from all over the world you know. weird words that were picked up and sometimes don’t even mean the same thing in the original language…but that’s the way it is.

  48. sanjay karve says

    A language is a means of communication. If a word aptly sums up what is required to be conveyed it should find a place in daily usage. The word has aptly been included in the Oxford Dictionary and that should rest all the doubts.

  49. I am an Indian National in South Africa, and i used the same word yesterday and my boss laughed and told me there is no word like that in English Dictionary.
    About usage of other english words in India.. I think in common/general conversation Indians always use ‘Typical’ to represent something which is very common.

  50. I was among the group of people who wud keep sayin “there is no such word. Please use advance instead of prepone”. Guess I can stop now! Cool! As for prepaid and postpaid cellular connections, makes perfect sense to me.
    Prepaid: U pay the money ahead of actually making any calls.
    Postpaid: U pay at the end of the month for the calls u’ve made in the past period. Simple aint it? Stleast it is to Indians like me I guess 🙂

  51. I love that this word is now included in a dictionary. Although I knew that prepone was not a “real” word, I used to use it because it just seemed logical. Now I can officially use it with my American co-workers and if they gape at me, I will point them to the new dictionary!

  52. I have seen Indians using another word ‘cobrothers’
    Apparently it refers to men married to sisters!
    An example from web search:
    He is very passionate with his family and also his wife’s family members. He always takes care of his niece and nephew and also his wife’s nieces and nephew too. He always considers no harm to anybody. He likes the dosas and advise made by his father for him every night prior to his marriage and cares and respects his dad a lot. He is successful in his business and also helps out his cobrother to do well in business.

  53. I posted this recently on a differnt site regarding the same topic:
    Prepone may be a word, but it is definitely slang. Just because “aint” is in the dictionary does not make it proper English.
    I’ll give an example: “discombobulate”. How many “combobulated” people do you know? Just because you can create a logical antonym doesn’t mean that it is automatically acceptable.

  54. Well, I am an indian and had no idea that “prepone” was not a dictionary word. “Change is the only unchangable thing” and the rule applies to language too. As far as being a slang is concerner, well, I really wonder if we are learning a language for the Oxford dictionary or for our ease ?? I fwe go by the Imagine using the scientific name for everthing.. “Please fill my car with Propane Iso Butane ”

  55. “Prepone” is not slang, it’s a regional word, used mainly in the subcontinent for now. I suspect it will spread because of its obvious usefulness.

  56. I think the comments cleared my doubts on the usage of the word prepone.
    Well I will use the word accordingly and I hope words of Indian origin get the recognition worldwide.

  57. Although prepone seems logically correct I do not consider using it. It just rings a wrong bell.

  58. with so much discussion going on i’m confused whether to use the word or fact i become very conscious when i have to use the word or when i hear it…so i prefer not using it.

  59. Hi i chanced upon this when i was surfing…what does the word “hatke” mean in indian english? I’m a student from singapore, and am interested in words that people being in from other languages…

  60. I did not know prepone was not a word :). Never realised it. We use it so often in India. I came to know of it because I have an English exam tomorrow and I found a sentence with “prepone” that was to be corrected. That got me wondering about it and I found this page. By the way who invented the word postpone? Could he/she not have made prepone then and there. It is so logical.

  61. It is a word — it’s just not in most dictionaries yet.

  62. Old Fashioned Brit says

    Frankly Prepone is unnecessary.
    “Postpone” would normally mean to change the start date or time to an undefined time.
    “Delayed until” would mean to change the time beyond the original time
    “Advanced to” would mean that the time is now earlier than originally scheduled.
    Why make up words when we have perfectly good ones that fit the circumstances.

  63. “Postpone” does not mean ‘to change the start date or time to an undefined time,’ it means to change it to a later time. It is exactly the same as “delay until,” so by your reasoning we don’t need that word either. In fact, why say “dog” when you can say “canine mammal,” or “snow” when you can say “white stuff that falls from the sky in winter”? “Prepone” is a shorter and more convenient way of expressing the idea; that’s why words are created and used.

  64. Old Fashioned Brit says

    I disagree, one of the reasons that we fail to communicate is that people insist on changing how we use language. You still have to say “prepone to” so it is no different from “advanced to”. Why create a synonym for the sake of it.
    I choose to use postponed the way I described it although as you rightly say it has been coopted to be a synonym with delayed at which point it too is redundant.

  65. Super Genius says

    This in response to the posting of:
    Old Fashioned Brit at October 18, 2005 11:07 AM
    It is not necessary to say “preponed to” and can use “preponed” instead. However it is must to use “advanced to” and not just “advanced”.

  66. Btw…Americans will gape at you if you use the word “botheration”. This word is pretty much a member of all the dictionaries in the world.
    That’s regarding words, what about the difference in spelling on each side of the atlantic.
    Like Tyre vs. Tire, Cheque vs. check etc…

  67. Thea Goldsby says

    I am American and had never heard the word “prepone” until an Indian co-worker of mine used it. It was immediately obvious to me what he meant. I think the reason we Americans (can’t speak for anywhere else) never developed this perfectly precise, succinct word is that we almost never get anything done early!

  68. Heh. It’s certainly true of me!

  69. Well prepone not being a word? Wow! now thats something. Here in India we use it so often. Maybe its not grammatically correct, but I think its just convenient. Until people have made their minds about it,nothing wrong in using “Advanced to”

  70. It is a word. It’s just not common outside of India.

  71. thank is useful information

  72. Is this word more commonly pronounced ‘preh-pone’ or ‘pree-pone’?
    Strangely, I don’t remember hearing it before, although there are lots of South Asians in our part of London.

  73. Pree-pone: it’s the normal pre-fix pre-.

  74. I know, but that’s also the pre-fix in ‘preface’! 🙂
    Thanks; I will have to try using it now.

  75. I think we could use “advanced to” instead of that bogus “preponed” 🙂

  76. dr. muddasani pulla reddy says

    It is interesting to know about prepone. I thought it is a dictionary word. Today my daughter asked me what is the opposite of postpone. when I said prepone she told me it is advanced. In her school examinations (Tenth standard)does she get marks if she uses prepone in her answer sheet?

  77. I’m afraid her teachers probably won’t like it. Even though it’s in at least one dictionary, it will take a while to be fully accepted.

  78. Thanks to the OED’s period of free access (and to Language Hat for telling us about it), I just found out that ‘prepone’, in the sense discussed above, was used in English as early as 1941:
    1941 M. KELLEY This Great Argument iv. 105 He [sc. Milton] 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. 1978 Church Times 13 Oct. 8/5 Longman would like to announce that the publication date for Linelights has been preponed (brought forward) from 16th October to 25th September. 1987 Summary of World Broadcasts Pt. 3: Far East (B.B.C.) 14 Oct. FE/8698/B/1 The winter session of Indian parliament, which is normally convened in the third week of November, has been early next month. 1997 Independent 26 July I. 15/3 On my recent visit to Delhi, I was handed a note by my client’s driver who met me… The note stated that my meeting with my client had been preponed. 2001 Times of India (Nexis) 22 Feb., [The] transport minister..decided to ask schools to prepone their examinations and start summer vacations in April in view of a transport crisis.
    The first example doesn’t seem to be Indian English; possibly not the second either.
    The word also occurred even earlier, in the 16th century, but back then it meant ‘to set before’:
    1549 R. CROWLEY Psalter of David XVI. sig. Civv, I do prepone and set the Lord alwaye before myne eyes: He is styll at my right hande, leaste I fall in anye wyse. 1625 A. GARDYNE Characters & Ess. Ep. Ded. 5, I stood, and studi’d, whose præponed Name Should dye in Graine, and Luster lend to Them.

  79. Excellent! So now you can all tell your teachers it’s an official word, sanctified by the Oxford English Dictionary.

  80. Hi.. i am computer engineer working in a indian company.till now i had a doubt about opposit word for postpone…i am very doubrful to use prepone”
    now i am very comfortable to use this indian invented word.. thank you

  81. vivek mishra says

    there is so much argument about this prepone and postpone stuff already ….
    few say, since it is there and convinient to use so it is acceptable………. well in that case there are so many things that would make sense but still the use of such words is wrong.
    there are some others, who say that just that it can be used, doesn’t make it a right use …well in that case question arises that the words that are already in use …. what makes them right…. the so called right words also started at some point of time. if Shakespeare was made to read present day english… he wouldn’t have understood five out of eight words… therefore a language is indeed dynamic and organic…. its just a matter of fact that how you take it.
    Anyway, coming back to prepone vs. postpone…
    I always use …rescheduled(where ever it can be)… because it fits well in both the cases…
    i have “preponed” (rescheduled) it for saturday…
    i have “postponed” (rescheduled)it for monday….

  82. Today (15th April 2006), the CNN TV reporter from Nepal said “the government will prepone the elections”. I understood the message but decided to check its validity. The reporter should have said “the Government promised earlier elections”. Till everyone is comfortable with “prepone”, students and international journalists better avoid it.

  83. I wasn’t even aware there was any kind of discussion on “prepone”! I was just typing an email to suggest a schedule change, and in my mind it made sense to use “pre” in lieu of “post” as I was trying to give my group members a choice of before or after. Although language is best used when the listener understand you, I also think it entertaining to hear and come up with logical and educated antonyms instead of using awkward phrases to denote the opposite.

  84. JC posted this in a 2011 comment:

    Prepone, however, is in the OED3, with the following quotations:

    1913 J. J. D. Trenon in N.Y. Times 7 Dec. c6 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’.
    1941 M. Kelley This Great Argument iv. 105 He [sc. Milton] 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.
    1978 Church Times 13 Oct. 8/5 Longman would like to announce that the publication date for Linelights has been preponed (brought forward) from 16th October to 25th September.
    1987 Summary of World Broadcasts Pt. 3: Far East (B.B.C.) 14 Oct. FE/8698/B/1 The winter session of Indian parliament, which is normally convened in the third week of November, has been preponed‥to early next month.
    1997 Independent 26 July i. 15/3 On my recent visit to Delhi, I was handed a note by my client’s driver who met me.‥ The note stated that my meeting with my client had been preponed.
    2001 Times of India (Nexis) 22 Feb., [The] transport minister‥decided to ask schools to prepone their examinations and start summer vacations in April in view of a transport crisis.

  85. David L. Gold says

    To summarize: prepone and postpone are eminently suitable for all users of English because they are unambiguous and constitute an easily remembered pair. That most dictionaries do not list prepone is no obstacle to using the word. Preponement is also needed, to complement postponement.

    Advance, move back, move forward and move up being contronyms, they are unsuitable for efficient communication.

  86. PlasticPaddy says

    By the same logic we need postpare for the cumbersome circumlocutions like “panic”, “run in circles”, “scream and shout”, etc. ????

  87. John Cowan says

    At times of peril or dubitation,
    Perform swift circular ambulation,
    With loud and high-pitched ululation.


  88. David Eddyshaw says

    Also “postfer”, for when you eventually do get reconciled to something you didn’t like initially.

  89. David L. Gold says

    The ambiguity of “advance, move back, move forward and move up” reminds me of other English usages referring to time.

    If today is Monday and I want to speak of the very first Sunday coming up on the calendar, I say any of the following:

    this Sunday
    this coming Sunday
    next Sunday

    More than once, however, I have been misunderstood (I cannot remember which of the three variants caused the problem).

    It appears that certain speakers of English distinguish (1) the very next Sunday on the calendar by using one of those three variants and (2) the Sunday after the very next Sunday on the calendar by using one of the others whereas for me all three are synonyms.

    There’s also Sunday next, which is in my passive vocabulary only.

  90. There were many anecdotes back in the day about Abraham Halevy Fraenkel, one of the founders of axiomatic set theory, and the quintessential yekke — a German Jewish immigrant to Israel, and stereotypically a species of nerd (q.v.).
    The most famous Fraenkel anecdote is about him getting on a bus, and hearing the bus driver shout, להתקדם אחורה lehitkadem akhora! literally ‘advance to the back!’. Fraenkel pointed out to the driver the inherent illogic of his statement. The driver stared at him, then said, “What are you, a yekke or a professor?” And Fraenkel replied, in a heavily German-accented but precise Hebrew, וְכִי יֵשׁ סְתִירָה בֵּין הַשְּׁנַיִם vekhi yesh setira bein hashnayim ‘and must the two stand in contradiction?’

    (A very slight excuse to tell that hoary anecdote, which I like very much.)

  91. David Eddyshaw says

    This Sunday

    Sunday is a special case, which confuses the issue a bit.

    For me (the last remaining the-week-starts-on-Sunday Brit), this means the last preceding Sunday. In practice, I would always actually say “last Sunday” when communicating with earthlings, as gratuitous ambiguity often offends (I find.)* The very next Sunday after today is “next Sunday”, and I would be nonplussed by anyone intending the Sunday after that by the term; but on reflection that would just be the logical counterpart of my own usage, but from someone to whom Sunday is the last day of the week (anathema!) In either case, “this Sunday” = “Sunday of this current week” (just as “this morning” is “the morning of this current day”, regardless of whether it lies in the past or not.)

    In the same way, the reference of “this night”, spoken during the day, depends on whether you think the day begins at sundown (as in Arabic) or sunrise (as in Kusaal.)

    * Now I’ve written it down, I realise that that’s still ambiguous, as I might conceivably mean the Sunday of last week
    Traditional Kusaasi don’t count by weeks or weekdays at all, measuring such intervals by the actual number of days. We have much to learn from these ancient cultures.

  92. Trond Engen says

    Postparation is a brilliant word, but I’d use it for systematic work to mitigate an avoidable crisis or to meet a need that is already accute. Funding vaccine research during the pandemic. Building dikes against a rising flood. Bailing out banks after the cash.

  93. Trond Engen says

    Me Postparation is a brilliant word

    Norw. etterberedelse, etterbuing, Germ. Nachbereitung.

    Postvent is also good. Etterbygg(j)e, nachbeugen.

    Bailing out banks after the cash.

    Heh. Well said, but I think that must have been the Norwegian autocorrect on my phone.

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