Definition of preliminary in English:

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Pronunciation: /prəˈliməˌnerē/


Denoting an action or event preceding or done in preparation for something fuller or more important: preliminary talks the discussions were seen as preliminary to the policy paper
More example sentences
  • There are several very important reasons for this preliminary arm action.
  • The news comes as the inquiry prepares to hold two preliminary meetings in York next month to discuss the format and conduct of the hearings.
  • The company has agreed to prepare preliminary proposals based on feedback received at the workshop and exhibition.
preparatory, introductory, initial, opening, prefatory, precursory;
early, exploratory

noun (plural preliminaries)

1An action or event preceding or preparing for something fuller or more important: 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, preparatory measure, preliminary action
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/prefatory remarks, formalities
1.2A preliminary round in a sporting competition.
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) fuller form of prelims (see prelim (sense 2)).


preliminary to

Preparatory to; in advance of.
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, preparatory to



Pronunciation: /prəˌliməˈnerəlē/
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'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pre·lim·i·nar·y

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