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 for finalists
The finale begins with the three finalists doing a photoshoot with animals.
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