1. (properly) History before written records, inclusive of both
    1. The time before written records in any area of the world; the events and conditions of those times.
    2. The study of those times.
  2. (jocular, hyperbole) Any past time (even recent) treated as such a distant, unknowable era.
    • 1984, Shiva Naipaul, Beyond the Dragon's Mouth, p. 25:
      I was a town boy through and through. The country belonged to a vague pre-history.
  3. (often as pre-history) The history leading up to some event, condition, etc.
    • 1931 July 25, Time & Tide, p. 893:
      Psychologists... are mostly bad historians, inventing—as Freud has done—their pre-history to suit their theories.
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