Definition of preliminary in English:


Syllabification: pre·lim·i·nar·y
Pronunciation: /priˈliməˌnerē


  • 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.

noun (plural preliminaries)

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  • 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.
    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) fuller form of prelims (see prelim ( sense 2)).


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, preparatory to



Pronunciation: /-ˌliməˈnerəlē/
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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elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody