adjective Also pro·vi·sion·ar·y [pruh-vizh-uh-ner-ee] /prəˈvɪʒ əˌnɛr i/ (for defs 1, 2).

providing or serving for the time being only; existing only until permanently or properly replaced; temporary: a provisional government.
accepted or adopted tentatively; conditional; probationary.
(usually initial capital letter) of or being the wing of the Irish Republican Army that follows a policy of violence.


Philately. a stamp that serves temporarily, pending the appearance of the regular issue, or during a temporary shortage of the regular stamps.
a provisional member of a group.
(usually initial capital letter) a member of the Provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for provisionary

Historical Examples of provisionary

  • At three o'clock the imperial dynasty was proclaimed as at an end, and a provisionary government installed.

    Royal Palaces and Parks of France

    Milburg Francisco Mansfield

  • Gentlemen, such are the series of experiments made by M. Gannal, since the first provisionary report was presented to you.

  • The new system was defined as the "Provisionary Consulate;" but this form was only transitional.

  • She had already taken that provisionary leap into a mythical future which is one of the perfunctory attitudes of maidenhood.

    The Wayfarers

    Mary Stewart Cutting

British Dictionary definitions for provisionary



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


Also called: Provo a member of the Provisional IRA or Sinn Féin
Compare Official


less commonly provisionary (prəˈvɪʒənərɪ)


subject to later alteration; temporary or conditionala provisional decision


a postage stamp surcharged during an emergency to alter the stamp's denomination or significance until a new or regular issue is printed
Derived Formsprovisionally, adverb
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 provisionary



"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper