[ 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 pre·lim·i·nar·ies.

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

SYNONYMS FOR preliminary

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.

ANTONYMS FOR preliminary

1 concluding.

Related forms

pre·lim·i·nar·i·ly, adverb

Definition for preliminaries (2 of 2)

front matter

noun Printing.

all material in a book that precedes the text proper, as the title page, copyright page, table of contents, dedication, and preface.
Compare back matter.

Origin of front matter

An Americanism dating back to 1905–10
Also called preliminaries. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for preliminaries

British Dictionary definitions for preliminaries (1 of 3)


/ (prɪˈlɪmɪnərɪz) /

pl n

the full word for prelims

British Dictionary definitions for preliminaries (2 of 3)

front matter


another name for prelims (def. 1)

British Dictionary definitions for preliminaries (3 of 3)


/ (prɪˈlɪmɪnərɪ) /


(usually prenominal) occurring before or in preparation; introductory

noun plural -naries

a preliminary event or occurrence
an eliminating contest held before the main competition

Derived Forms

preliminarily, adverb

Word Origin for preliminary

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