a small portion of a food or drink served before or at the beginning of a meal to stimulate the desire to eat.
any small portion that stimulates a desire for more or that indicates more is to follow: The first game was an appetizer to a great football season.

1860–65; appetiz(ing) + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
appetizer or appetiser (ˈæpɪˌtaɪzə)
1.  a small amount of food or drink taken to stimulate the appetite
2.  any stimulating foretaste
appetiser or appetiser

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Britannica


food eaten to pique the appetite or to moderate the hunger stimulated by drink. Cocktails, especially aperitifs, the characteristic "dryness" of which allegedly stimulates the appetite, are customarily served with appetizers. Hors d'oeuvres, small portions of savoury foods, often highly seasoned, and canapes, small pieces of bread, crackers, or croutons with various toppings, are the classic appetizer categories

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Full of fresh, green flavors, these wraps can be a light appetizer or a meal.
For example, sushi, which is offered in one appetizer at each meal.
Serve in appetizer portions with chips, or drain well and pile onto chips to
  make canapés.
Hardboiled eggs cut in half and topped with salmon caviar are a common
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