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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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for preliminary
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She suddenly remembered about the medicine chest and gave a preliminary yell.

  • The final draft of the letter was composed only after three preliminary ones.

    Tutors' Lane Wilmarth Lewis
  • He did not believe it possible for a river to go over a fall without some preliminary disturbance.

    The Woman from Outside Hulbert Footner
  • And I want a model of that device as soon as it's developed and has had preliminary tests.

    Final Weapon Everett B. Cole
  • Here he submitted to a preliminary baptism, desiring to complete the ceremony with greater solemnity in Warsaw.

British Dictionary definitions for preliminary


(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 preliminary

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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