Prenup Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

This guide will help you learn more about the term prenup. Explore the meaning of the word prenup, its origin, examples, and more.

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The word prenup is a popular term in romantic comedies, and many situations are scripted with this word used in a tense and negative light. If you’re engaged, you may have been approached to sign a prenup or asked by others if you will ask for a prenup.

But, if you don’t know what a prenup means, you won’t know if it’s right for you and your situation or how to take it. It’s best to learn the meaning of prenup first.

What Is the Meaning of Prenup?

According to Cornell Law School, a prenuptial agreement, also known as a prenup, is a legal contract that is entered into by both parties of the couple prior to a marriage or civil union. It sets the terms in advance of a separation in the future. 

This written agreement allows both parties to agree to terms that supersede default marital laws. These agreements can be entered into for same-sex marriages as well, but they are not used in common-law marriages. 

Typically, prenuptial agreements preemptively deal with topics like the division of assets such as property, the right to make a claim for alimony, or clarify certain marital rights. The contract might also stipulate the terms of a surviving spouse’s claim to a portioned share of a deceased spouse’s estate or waive that claim in advance.

What Is the Origin of Prenup?

Prenuptial agreements are used in many countries such as:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • New Zealand
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • United States
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Some countries are party to the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Matrimonial Property Regimes, which also permits and authorizes prenuptial agreements.

These countries include:

  • Austria
  • France
  • Luxemburg
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal

The history of prenuptial agreements dates back to at least 2,000 years ago. One of the oldest agreements found to date is a Hebrew marriage contract. Many historical descriptions of agreements that were settled prior to the beginning of a marriage can also be considered prenuptial agreements. For example, in European countries, dowries are often thought of as early forms of premarital agreements.

When Will You Use Prenup?

Prenups are not a bad idea considering that according to marital statistics, there is still a 50 percent chance that couples marrying for the first time will later divorce. There are many reasons to consider a prenuptial agreement, such as third parties.

If you or your soon-to-be spouse have obligations from a previous relationship, such as the children of a prior marriage or the management or potential for a large inheritance, a prenup can protect your interests.

If this is your second time getting married, you may have already experienced the repercussions of not having a prenup. Before people enter into their second marriages or third marriages, it’s important to consider the advantages of a prenup in the event of the unfortunate circumstance of divorce or being widowed. 

When determining the language of the prenup, it’s important to consider various assets like:

  • Real estate
  • Premarital Assets
  • Stock investments
  • Children’s inheritance 
  • Cash
  • Business ownership 
  • Inheritance from family members
  • Family heirlooms

If you don’t have any of those assets yet, you may still need a prenuptial agreement to help you determine how you will handle assets accumulated in the duration of your domestic partnership. 

Questions and Considerations

Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself or each other:

  • Will we have a joint bank account?
  • How would we split a joint account?
  • How would we split our marital property?
  • How would we split community property?
  • How would we split marital assets?

All of these are important to discuss when it comes to a couple’s finances. It’s often easier to discuss while they are still your future spouse rather than discussing it with an ex-spouse. A prenup can save you time, money, and tears later on.

Other terms to consider during the prenuptial agreement are debts, spousal support, child custody, and child support. In some cases, prenups are used to clearly define the responsibilities and roles of each spouse within the marriage. For some people, they may need to think of their kids or the custody of pets. 

It can be difficult for some people to discuss with their bride or groom, as they make happy wedding plans, the need for a legal agreement. However, your own financial future could be at stake, and you don’t want to deal with the financial consequences that you’ll pay with your future earnings because you didn’t want to have a difficult conversation before your wedding.

A prenup will give each future spouse a modicum of control over the terms of their future. Without it, it could be determined in court. If you already have significant assets, like stock options, you’ll want to be protected in the event of divorce.

Prenups have a stigma for representing a lack of trust or as a commentary on the chances of a successful marriage. However, this written contract is entered by each member of the couple to serve in their best interests. If you are asking for a prenup, approach the subject with empathy. 

You may be getting all sorts of advice from family members as your big day approaches, and you may have a knot in your stomach that isn’t pre-wedding jitters. If you or your future husband or wife has concerns, seek legal advice from an attorney instead of the popular opinion of others to determine if a prenup is the right fit for your situation in the event of a divorce. 

What Is a Synonym For Prenup?

Synonyms are words that have, in essence, the same meaning as another word. Here are a few synonyms for the word prenup: 

  • Antenuptial agreement 
  • Premarital agreement 

What Is an Antonym For Prenup?

Antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning of a word. Here are antonyms of the word prenup:

  • Nonmarital agreement 
  • Postnuptial agreement 
  • Postmarital agreement

Examples of Prenup

Even when we know the meaning of a word, it can be hard to know exactly how to use the word in a sentence.

Here are some examples of using the word prenup:

  • Prenups are not the dealbreakers movies make them out to be.
  • Our prenup ensures that our interests are protected.
  • We may be joining our lives, but we’re still individuals. That’s why we chose to sign a prenup.
  • I’ll have my lawyer draw up a prenup, and we can look it over together. 
  • I should have had him sign a prenup.

The Last Word

A prenup is common terminology for lawyers, engaged couples, and concerned family and friends. Now that you know the meaning of the word prenup, you’ll know if it’s right for you and how to bring it up in conversation.

The synonyms and examples will also help you talk about it in an easier way and with confidence. Learning the definitions of words, even words we’ve heard a lot, can help us have a deeper understanding of situations and express ourselves more clearly.


  1. Prenuptial agreement | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute | Cornell University 
  2. Convention on the Law Applicable to Matrimonial Property Regimes | University of Oslo, The Faculty of Law
  3. Marriage and Divorce | APA