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.

1650–60; < French prélimin(aire) and Neo-Latin praelīmin(āris) (see pre-, liminal) + -ary

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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
preliminaries (prɪˈlɪmɪnərɪz)
pl n
the full word for prelims

preliminary (prɪˈlɪmɪnərɪ)
1.  (usually prenominal) occurring before or in preparation; introductory
n , -naries
2.  a preliminary event or occurrence
3.  an eliminating contest held before the main competition
[C17: from New Latin praelīmināris, from Latin prae before + līmen threshold]

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

1656, from Fr. préliminaire or M.L. præliminaris, from L. præ- "before" + limen (gen. liminis) "threshold." A word that arose in ref. to negotiations to end the Thirty Years' War.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Some would-be duelists discovered that even the code's formal preliminaries might set in motion an irreversible chain of events.
But there are no soothing preliminaries this afternoon.
When the star touches the moon's jagged edge, it winks out all at once with no preliminaries.
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