What does the word preface mean?

Usage examples for preface

  1. I replied, " He is near his end; but he asked me to read him Voltaire's preface to the 'Esprit de Lois', he has just fallen asleep." – The Project Gutenberg Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte by Bourrienne, Constant, and Stewarton
  2. Preface clean and dignified. – The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 24 (of 25) by Robert Louis Stevenson Other: Andrew Lang
  3. 275. 34. See the following Preface, p. – The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus by Teresa of Avila