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adjective Also pro·vi·sion·ar·y [pruh-vizh-uh-ner-ee] /prəˈvɪʒ əˌnɛr i/ (for defs 1, 2).
  1. providing or serving for the time being only; existing only until permanently or properly replaced; temporary: a provisional government.
  2. accepted or adopted tentatively; conditional; probationary.
  3. (usually initial capital letter) of or being the wing of the Irish Republican Army that follows a policy of violence.
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  1. Philately. a stamp that serves temporarily, pending the appearance of the regular issue, or during a temporary shortage of the regular stamps.
  2. a provisional member of a group.
  3. (usually initial capital letter) a member of the Provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army.
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Origin of provisional

First recorded in 1595–1605; provision + -al1
Related formspro·vi·sion·al·i·ty, pro·vi·sion·al·ness, nounpro·vi·sion·al·ly, adverbnon·pro·vi·sion·al, adjectivenon·pro·vi·sion·al·ly, adverbnon·pro·vi·sion·ar·y, adjectiveun·pro·vi·sion·al, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for provisional


less commonly provisionary (prəˈvɪʒənərɪ)

  1. subject to later alteration; temporary or conditionala provisional decision
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  1. a postage stamp surcharged during an emergency to alter the stamp's denomination or significance until a new or regular issue is printed
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Derived Formsprovisionally, adverb


  1. of, designating, or relating to the unofficial factions of the IRA and Sinn Féin that became increasingly dominant following a split in 1969. The Provisional movement remained committed to a policy of terrorism until its ceasefires of the mid-1990s
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  1. Also called: Provo a member of the Provisional IRA or Sinn Féin
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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 provisional


"as a temporary arrangement for the present," c.1600, from provision (n.) + -al (1), or else from Middle French provisionnal (15c.), from Old French provision. The notion is of something that will "provide for present needs." Related: Provisionally.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper