Why are they called "trailers" if they are shown BEFORE a movie?

There have been a lot of threads lately about movie trailers. One thing I’ve always wondered is why they are called “trailers” when they are shown before a movie, not after.

Actually, for a long time we always referred to them as “previews”. It seems like only in the last few years that “trailer” has come into widespread use by the general public. Am I way off on that?

They used to be shown after the movie.

Trailers were the original name for them. They were first shown after the main feature back when you had movies tied with cartoons and newsreels. Wiki link

Audiences and movie theaters always called them “previews.” “Trailers” did exist as a term, but only to movie insiders.

Even in the 30s, they were billed as “Previews of Coming Attractions.” They were generally shown before the feature.

At some point – I’d guess in the 70s or 80s, the industry term became standard. Probably someone tried to show how hip they were to real movie terminology, and others followed.