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A clause at the beginning of a constitution or statute explaining the reasons for its enactment and the objectives it seeks to attain.

Generally a preamble is a declaration by the legislature of the reasons for the passage of the statute, and it aids in the interpretation of any ambiguities within the statute to which it is prefixed. It has been held, however, that a preamble is not an essential part of an act, and it neither enlarges nor confers powers.


noun beginning, exordium, foreword, foundation, introduction, introductory part, introductory statement, lead, opening, preface, prefatory note, prelude, prelusion, proem, prolegomenon, prologue
Associated concepts: preamble to a constitution
See also: overture, preface, prelude, threshold


the preliminary part of a document, legislation, a contract or a treaty, usually setting out what it is all about or why it has been prepared, specially used of an Act of Parliament where Parliament expresses the general purposes of the piece of legislation. It can be referred to for the purposes of statutory interpretation.

PREAMBLE. A preface, an introduction or explanation of what is to follow: that clause at the head of acts of congress or other legislatures which explains the reasons why the act is made. Preambles are also frequently put in contracts to, explain the motives of the contracting parties,
     2. A preamble is said to be the key of a statute, to open the minds of the makers as to the mischiefs which are to be remedied, and the objects which are to be accomplished by the provisions of the statutes. It cannot amount, by implication, to enlarge what is expressly given. 1 Story on Const. B 3, c. 6. How far a preamble is to be considered evidence of the facts it recites, see 4 M. & S. 532; 1 Phil. Ev. 239; 2 Russ. on Cr. 720; and see, generally, Ersk. L. of Scotl. 1, 1, 18; Toull. liv. 3, n. 318; 2 Supp. to Ves. jr. 239; 4 L. R. 55; Barr. on the Stat. 353, 370.