Definition of preliminary in English:


Line breaks: pre|lim¦in|ary
Pronunciation: /prɪˈlɪmɪn(ə)ri


noun (plural preliminaries)

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  • 1A preliminary action or event: the bombardment was resumed as a preliminary to an infantry attack
    More example sentences
    • After the written preliminary, the six teams which qualified appeared on stage for the finals.
    • He had no sooner set about the preliminaries - the getting of suitable marble for his work - than he began to quarrel with the men who were to hew it.
    • This long march requires many small steps and wide-ranging preliminaries in confidence rebuilding.
    prelude, preparation, preliminary/preparatory measure, preliminary action, overture, groundwork, first round
  • 1.1 (preliminaries) Business or talk, especially of a formulaic or polite nature, taking place before an action or event: she began speaking, without preliminaries
    More example sentences
    • The preliminaries were polite, but from the outset it was clear that both men were in Braehead to put on a show.
    • To return to your Honour the Chief Justice, the idea is that these preliminaries to business will be completed.
    • When two minds are focused on a problem, and look at the problem with similar prejudices of what is correct and what is not, conversations need no preliminaries.
    introduction, preamble, opening, opening/prefatory remarks, formalities
  • 1.2A preliminary round in a sporting competition.
    More example sentences
    • Mbazima and Mwansa qualified to the finals after emerging first in a round-robin format during preliminaries of the three day tournament.
    • He was signed by Efes Istanbul in Turkey and had a terrific showing in leading underdog Latvia out of the preliminaries of the European Championships.
    • The tournament saw some 32 teams competing in the preliminaries.
  • 1.3 (preliminaries) The prelims of a text.


preliminary to

Preparatory to; in advance of.
More example sentences
  • The archaeological excavation is a necessary preliminary to that work, and pipe laying cannot take place until the archaeology has been completed.
  • More dramatically, we looked over the house that ‘Venice in Peril’ have had surveyed as a preliminary to the city repairing it and dividing it up.
  • The Miss Universe Zambia is the official preliminary to the Miss Universe pageant held every year.
in preparation for, before, in advance of, prior to, ahead of, preparatory to



More example sentences
  • According to the preliminarily announced criteria, the proposed cash contribution will be most important as it brings a maximum of 80 points.
  • The Inspector said that police investigators have preliminarily concluded that the robbery was perpetrated by professionals.
  • The City Council preliminarily approved the agreement Wednesday and will take a final vote Monday.


mid 17th century: from modern Latin praeliminaris or French préliminaire, from Latin prae 'before' + limen, limin- 'threshold'.

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