a person entitled to participate in the final or decisive contest in a series, as in musical or athletic competition.

1895–1900; final + -ist Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
finalist (ˈfaɪnəlɪst)
a contestant who has reached the last and decisive stage of a sports or other competition

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
Fans of fair play may also be turned off by an event where poor scheduling can
  give one finalist an advantage over the other.
In the next three programs, three semifinalists compete for a finalist slot.
If your photo is selected as a finalist, you will be required to present a
  release form.
She wasn't choking during the interviews or she would not have advanced to the
  finalist stage.
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