Word Confusion: Forward versus Foreword

Posted May 8, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 1 September 2017

It seemed appropriate to include forward and foreword along with afterward versus afterword, although I suppose I should’a reversed the order of publication…hmmm…

It’s a bit forward of me to lecture at you about proper word usage, but I’d rather you look good to your readers…and know how to label any introductory preamble or prelude to your book.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Forward Foreword
Credit to: Merriam-Webster: forward and foreword

“Forward »” is Lemonlime’s own work under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

“Foreword, Preface, Introduction, or Prologue — Which One?” is courtesy of Rick Benzel at Publish to Get Clients

Part of Grammar:
Adjective Noun
Plural for the noun:
Near, being at, or belonging to the forepart

Situated in advance

Strongly inclined

Lacking modesty or reserve

Notably advanced or developed

Moving, tending, or leading toward a position in front

Moving toward an opponent’s goal

Advocating an advanced policy in the direction of what is considered


Of, relating to, or getting ready for the future

Before the word

A section at the beginning of a book that introduces the book and is written by someone other than the book’s author *, usually a celebrity or another author in your field

A credible opinion written by someone else indicating that your book is worth reading

Get to the forward deck!

She’s quite a forward woman.

I’m looking forward to meeting him.

It’s useful to read the foreword in a book as it can give you an idea of what inspired the author.

It can be a good marketing ploy to get a well-known expert to write a foreword for your technical book.

A foreword is similar to a preface, which is written by the author.

History of the Word:
First known use: before 12th century

Middle English from the Old English foreweard, from fore- + -weard -ward

First known use: 1842

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

50th Division moving forward near St Gabriel, 6 June 1944 by Sergeant Parkinson No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.