• synonyms


  1. preceding and leading up to the main part, matter, or business; introductory; preparatory: preliminary examinations.
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noun, plural pre·lim·i·nar·ies.
  1. something preliminary, as an introductory or preparatory step, measure, contest, etc.: He passed the preliminary and went on to the finals.
  2. a boxing match or other athletic contest that takes place before the main event on the program: A preliminary was fought at 8:00.
  3. a preliminary examination, as of a candidate for an academic degree.
  4. preliminaries, Printing. front matter.
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Origin of preliminary

1650–60; < French prélimin(aire) and New Latin praelīmin(āris) (see pre-, liminal) + -ary
Related formspre·lim·i·nar·i·ly, 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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for preliminarily

Historical Examples

  • But, preliminarily, you must do one or two more exercises in tinting.

    The Crown of Wild Olive

    John Ruskin

  • The actual marriage was preliminarily postponed, on account of the tender age of the bride.

    The Story of Norway

    Hjalmar H. Boyesen

  • By the adoption of the foregoing resolution, the area of a reservation was preliminarily defined.

    The Niagara River

    Archer Butler Hulbert

  • The conclusions of the Consular Committee were then preliminarily examined and discussed.

  • "Your grace, preliminarily, can still consider this garden as your own property," he respectfully responded.

British Dictionary definitions for preliminarily


  1. (usually prenominal) occurring before or in preparation; introductory
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noun plural -naries
  1. a preliminary event or occurrence
  2. an eliminating contest held before the main competition
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Derived Formspreliminarily, 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

Word Origin and History for preliminarily



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper