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[pruh-vizh-uh-nl] /prəˈvɪʒ ə nl/
adjective, Also, provisionary
[pruh-vizh-uh-ner-ee] /prəˈvɪʒ əˌnɛr i/ (Show IPA),
(for defs 1, 2).
providing or serving for the time being only; existing only until permanently or properly replaced; temporary:
a provisional government.
accepted or adopted tentatively; conditional; probationary.
(usually initial capital letter) of or being the wing of the Irish Republican Army that follows a policy of violence.
Philately. a stamp that serves temporarily, pending the appearance of the regular issue, or during a temporary shortage of the regular stamps.
a provisional member of a group.
(usually initial capital letter) a member of the Provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army.
Origin of provisional
1595-1605; provision + -al1
Related forms
provisionality, provisionalness, noun
provisionally, adverb
nonprovisional, adjective
nonprovisionally, adverb
nonprovisionary, adjective
unprovisional, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for provisional
  • There is only local knowledge, contingent and provisional.
  • Tentative does not mean weak, but provisional and willing to change course under the influence of new revelations.
  • The provisional government lacked political, financial and police resources.
  • Though so often elegant, evolution can also be jury-rigged and provisional.
  • Workers would think of the provisional bonus as theirs, and work harder to prevent it from being taken away.
  • The provisional route requires little to no advanced mountaineering skill.
  • The word is that a provisional result, and a peaceful change, is imminent.
  • When the provisional government heard she had returned, they came to hear her story and absolved her of any wrongdoing.
  • But a voter can refuse to sign the affidavit and still cast a ballot, though he must cast a provisional ballot in this case.
  • He has a provisional patent on the device, and will have a full patent in the next few months.
British Dictionary definitions for provisional


subject to later alteration; temporary or conditional: a provisional decision
a postage stamp surcharged during an emergency to alter the stamp's denomination or significance until a new or regular issue is printed
Derived Forms
provisionally, adverb


of, designating, or relating to the unofficial factions of the IRA and Sinn Féin that became increasingly dominant following a split in 1969. The Provisional movement remained committed to a policy of terrorism until its ceasefires of the mid-1990s
Also called Provo. a member of the Provisional IRA or Sinn Féin
Compare Official
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for provisional

"as a temporary arrangement for the present," c.1600, from provision (n.) + -al (1), or else from Middle French provisionnal (15c.), from Old French provision. The notion is of something that will "provide for present needs." Related: Provisionally.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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