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[pri-lim-uh-ner-ee] /prɪˈlɪm əˌnɛr i/
preceding and leading up to the main part, matter, or business; introductory; preparatory:
preliminary examinations.
noun, plural preliminaries.
something preliminary, as an introductory or preparatory step, measure, contest, etc.:
He passed the preliminary and went on to the finals.
a boxing match or other athletic contest that takes place before the main event on the program:
A preliminary was fought at 8:00.
a preliminary examination, as of a candidate for an academic degree.
preliminaries, Printing. front matter.
Origin of preliminary
1650-60; < French prélimin(aire) and New Latin praelīmin(āris) (see pre-, liminal) + -ary
Related forms
preliminarily, adverb
1. prefatory. Preliminary, introductory both refer to that which comes before the principal subject of consideration. That which is preliminary is in the nature of preparation or of clearing away details which would encumber the main subject or problem; it often deals with arrangements and the like, which have to do only incidentally with the principal subject: preliminary negotiations. That which is introductory leads with natural, logical, or close connection directly into the main subject of consideration: introductory steps.
1. concluding.

front matter

noun, Printing.
all material in a book that precedes the text proper, as the title page, copyright page, table of contents, dedication, and preface.
Also called preliminaries.
Compare back matter.
1905-10, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for preliminaries
Historical Examples
  • The rest of the afternoon's proceedings, taken up as they were with the preliminaries of the case, bored him.

    The Man Who Knew Edgar Wallace
  • The preliminaries of the negotiation were adjusted at this interview.

  • In September Bedford was sent to Paris to settle the preliminaries.

  • These preliminaries over, Dimples sets herself to pay for her seat.

    Lotus Buds Amy Carmichael
  • But there had been some preliminaries attending his departure.

    The Lost Wagon James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • The preliminaries were transacted, and the retreat commenced.

    Hellenica Xenophon
  • We are still busy with the statutes, with the preliminaries.

    The Red Room August Strindberg
  • preliminaries were smoothed; he had left the widow wearing his ring.

  • The count, who was in haste to witness the coronation of his flame, was already arranging the preliminaries of his marriage.

    Monsieur Cherami Charles Paul de Kock
  • These preliminaries being arranged, a show of hands was called for.

    A Waif of the Mountains Edward S. Ellis
British Dictionary definitions for preliminaries


plural noun
the full word for prelims

front matter

another name for prelims (sense 1)


(usually prenominal) occurring before or in preparation; introductory
noun (pl) -naries
a preliminary event or occurrence
an eliminating contest held before the main competition
Derived Forms
preliminarily, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin praelīmināris, from Latin prae before + līmen threshold
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 preliminaries



1660s, from French préliminaire and directly from Medieval Latin praeliminaris, from Latin prae- "before" (see pre-) + limen (genitive liminis) "threshold" (see limit (n.)). A word that arose in reference to negotiations to end the Thirty Years' War. Earliest attested form in English is preliminaries (n.), 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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