Definition of initial in English:



  • 1attributive Existing or occurring at the beginning.

    ‘our initial impression was favourable’
    • ‘You'll have to excuse my rather bland choice of words in the initial sentence.’
    • ‘Geraldine's initial letter had no proper address on it and they owe their reunion to the local postman who recognised the name and knew the door number.’
    • ‘Aside from her initial words, she took no notice of the man.’
    • ‘And yes, Jesus was poor, but not homeless, which was the entire point I was trying to make in my initial letter.’
    • ‘If trouble continues after an initial warning, a letter is sent to the youngster's parents.’
    • ‘The initial impression is of a tiny, brilliantly painted chapel.’
    • ‘This initial report outlines the investigation's key lines of inquiry and the next steps planned as of 7 August 2007.’
    • ‘They want to see if the initial, favorable impression was justified.’
    • ‘The initial list contained 50 words illustrating 20 presumed features of written Spanish.’
    • ‘However, he was at an initial loss of words when someone pointed out that the most feared people in the nation were policemen, and not teachers as he had said.’
    • ‘This was its first response to my initial letter, rather than the culmination of a lengthy and bitter exchange!’
    • ‘His initial letter in 1974 was because there had been another man or three other men arrested for the Otero murders.’
    • ‘Frankly, the initial material and words of advice in Wine Fundamentals are absolutely superb and sensible.’
    • ‘Their initial exchange of letters set the tone for their relationship as student and mentor.’
    • ‘After the initial greetings and words of sympathy and relief, we all filed into the living room.’
    • ‘Following that, the test administrator asks the subject to remember as many of the words on the initial list as possible.’
    • ‘There were 1,703 initial claims by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 9 from the preceding week.’
    • ‘When she caught word about the initial incident, she ordered all books and reading material banned and burned.’
    • ‘I'm nearly at the 10,000 words required for the initial pitch.’
    • ‘It was much more to do with the tone of the letter than the initial phrase.’
    beginning, opening, commencing, starting, inceptive, embryonic, fledgling
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a letter) at the beginning of a word.
      ‘the witness was identified simply by an initial letter’
      ‘initial consonants’
      • ‘The present study examined the role of the convention in German to capitalize the initial letters of nouns.’
      • ‘In German, as in English, the initial letter of the first word in a sentence is always capitalized.’
      • ‘This simple activity helps students focus on initial letters in words in both languages.’
      • ‘Do not confuse this use of red with the practice of using red ink for each initial letter of God, Christos or Iesus.’
      • ‘In its orthography, German gives an initial capital letter to its nouns, a practice common in English until the mid eighteenth century.’
      • ‘Without him Bolton went on to lose 2-0 to Walsall, who share an initial letter with Wembley but little else.’
      • ‘In PDF files particularly, initial letters may be separated from the rest of the word.’
      • ‘The utilization of only the initial letters of these names neutralizes this original significance.’
      • ‘And for certain names I used the same initial letter and changed the name; for some I just completely switched it.’
      • ‘He also used abbreviations for the unknown, usually the initial letter of a colour was used, and sometimes several different unknowns occur in a single problem.’
      • ‘Dyslexics may correctly get the initial letters and ‘rush’ the rest incorrectly.’
      • ‘The names of the patients had the same initial letter while the hospital numbers differed by just one digit.’
      • ‘The second scheme uses the first name and the initial letter of the last name.’
      • ‘In Experiment 2, we found that the initial letter of the solution word was no better as a cue than either the middle or last letter.’
      • ‘The announcement means that no more footwear will be made in the town that gave its initial letter to the K Shoes brand.’
      • ‘The initial letter in his surname is silent.’
      • ‘Show your child the initial letters of other members of the family and, when the post is delivered, see if they can work out whom each item of mail is for.’
      • ‘One is that the numerals came from an alphabet in a similar way to the Greek numerals which were the initial letters of the names of the numbers.’
      • ‘To encrypt the initial letter P we use the key letter beneath it which, in this case, is f.’
      • ‘Buy a packet of plain biscuits and writing icing, then draw the initial letter of everyone's name in your family on a separate biscuit.’


  • The first letter of a name or word, typically a person's given name or a word forming part of a phrase.

    ‘they carved their initials into the tree trunk’
    • ‘Robert's wife Susan said that the irons had such a positive effect that they gave someone who used them a good hair day - the initials of this phrase then became the company's name.’
    • ‘The headmaster's chair and canopy featuring a portrait of the school's founder still dominate the original panelled schoolroom, complete with the carved initials and names of generations of schoolboys.’
    • ‘Bach concluded all his works with the letters AMDG - the initials of the Latin words meaning ‘To the greater glory of God’.’
    • ‘Their names were initials until the public knew what the abbreviations stood for.’
    • ‘To indicate they have made such a hike, often they scribble their names or initials on rocks or stones or the marker on the top of the mount.’
    • ‘Those letters can be the initials of a first or a last name (of a person or a pet), or can represent a title or any other appellation.’
    • ‘It would have been helpful to have each man's name or initials before each letter.’
    • ‘A critical part of a girl's education in this discipline was learning how to stitch letters so she could work her initials or name onto the various linens made for the household.’
    • ‘And so, in similar circumstances, it is likely that someone from the class of 2005 will put his hand up, stamp his mark on the series, and henceforth be known by just one name or perhaps his initials.’
    • ‘The ever-present heart and anchor, symbols of hope and trust, were generally flanked by initials or sometimes even names.’
    • ‘The initials of the French name are also the first 4 letters in the European spelling for the first part of the digestive tract, the oesophagus, so the acronym is very appropriate.’
    • ‘If you can remember a few sets of initials, the full names follow automatically.’
    • ‘The name and initials of the interviewed person have been changed for security reasons.’
    • ‘Customize by choosing any combination of letters: your initials, a nickname, any word you think describes you.’
    • ‘And I thought for a minute that the initials of my name were just unlucky.’
    • ‘If the kerchief carried the lady's initials or name, it was purposely exhibited before the rival lover.’
    • ‘We have only the initials for the Christian names of the men in the back row who are dressed in their ordinary clothes.’
    • ‘Instead of the first and last letters of one word, the tiles can be made to represent the first and second initials of a phrase, name, etc.’
    • ‘He no longer uses his full name, just his initials.’
    • ‘She also matched initials to the names of more than a half-dozen workers.’
    initial letter, beginning letter
    View synonyms


  • 1Mark or sign (a document) with one's initials in order to authorize or validate it.

    ‘the man initialled the three warrants’
    ‘see that your client initials all alterations’
    • ‘Wondering whether he should have held the record company more to ransom, he initialled and signed both copies and retained one for himself.’
    • ‘Kane dated and signed the notes, and also initialed any changes to them.’
    • ‘So I just crossed out that section, initialed it, and signed the contract.’
    • ‘And by the same token I used that pen to initial my response to the offer that subsequently fell through.’
    • ‘This document, which he signed and initialed, reads as follows.’
    • ‘That draft notice will be in the form of a document which has now been handed up and which is initialled, dated and placed with the papers.’
    • ‘The pharmacist noticed the prescription for the dose had been altered from 50 to 100 microgrammes, and the alteration had not been initialled.’
    • ‘Please initial any alterations you make thereafter signing the statement of truth at the end.’
    • ‘I state here, unequivocally and for the record, that any documents presented to me by US law enforcement agents were signed and initialled under duress, thus rendered legally contested in validity.’
    • ‘The space for the client to initial had been left blank, and remained blank.’
    • ‘The candidate shall be asked to read and initial each page of the platform and sign a statement affirming he/she has read the entire platform.’
    • ‘Two more clerks came through, checking our IDs and initialing our blue application forms again.’
    • ‘They also must agree to sign or initial the special edition prints.’
    • ‘They've initialed notes that they gave us when we wrote the script.’
    • ‘They both initialled the proposal form and they both signed the cheques for the premiums.’
    • ‘Indeed, it was this assumption which led him to initial and/or sign the documents without considering them in any detail.’
    • ‘The Case Manager initialled the remaining one herself after having a meeting with ‘an undisclosed person’.’
    • ‘Jones read over and initialled or signed the document.’
    • ‘The solemnity of the language of the resolution and the fact that it was initialled on each page and signed at the end was calculated to impress on the reader the intended finality of the document.’
    • ‘After the notification, the department will initial the sheet.’
    put one's initials on, sign, countersign, autograph, endorse, put one's mark on, inscribe, superscribe, witness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Agree to or ratify (a treaty or contract) by signing it.
      ‘Greece and the United States initialled a new defence cooperation agreement’
      • ‘The two companies initialled a memorandum of understanding on Saturday which will be signed later this month in Moscow.’
      • ‘On 23 January 1973 Kissinger and the chief North Vietnamese negotiator, Le Duc Tho, initialled a cease-fire agreement in Paris.’
      • ‘And eight of the current squad were signed to initial contracts worth less than $5,000.’
      • ‘Canada, British Columbia and the Nisga'a Tribal Council initialed the final agreement earlier this summer.’
      • ‘This is a part of the text of the trilateral memorandum, which is due to be signed in Sofia in the near future, after being initialled on November 5 in Athens at a meeting of experts from the three countries involved in the project.’
      • ‘After meeting Hitler in May 1941 he and the German ambassador, Otto Abetz, initialled the Paris protocols which gave the Germans significant military concessions in Africa and the Middle East.’
      • ‘Three weeks of negotiations resulted in the three presidents initialing the Dayton peace agreements on 21 November.’
      • ‘The EU dropped a humiliating demand that Turkey initial the pact immediately on December 17.’
      • ‘In Kabul, the Afghan administration and Britain initialled an agreement on deployment of about 4,500 foreign peacekeeping troops.’
      • ‘East Timor and Australia initialed Thursday a framework agreement on revenue-sharing for oil in the Timor Gap between the two countries.’
      • ‘Jack and Jim signed the partnership agreement in public - they'd already initialled it in secret on Christmas Eve.’
      • ‘At the same time, he sought to demonstrate the benefits of US largesse by initialing a preliminary, non-binding agreement offering to share aspects of US military technology.’
      • ‘On 30 April 1803, American and French negotiators initialed agreements transferring the Louisiana territory to the United States in exchange for $11,250,000.’
      • ‘While the gentle refrain of the Nisga'a peace song filled the room, the final agreement was initialed.’
      • ‘Russia has still not signed the pipeline memorandum, which was initialled by Bulgaria and Greece in April, Dnevnik daily reported.’
      • ‘Raul Castro initialed a draft treaty with the Soviet Defense Minister that governed the deployment of Soviet forces to Cuba.’
      • ‘The political agreement was meant to solidify an earlier agreement that the Macedonian and Albanian sides initialed last Wednesday.’
      • ‘The Tlicho Agreement was initialled Sept. 4 by the chief negotiators of the Dogrib Treaty 11 council, the government of the Northwest Territories and the government of Canada.’
      • ‘The main components of the settlement package were agreed in February 2001, and a deed of settlement was initialled by negotiators in October 2002.’
      • ‘The PA Supervisory Board's decision came as a surprise to foreign investors and the public in Bulgaria, after the PA initialled the draft contract with Viva Ventures.’
      ratify, accept, approve, agree to, consent to, authorize, validate, recognize
      View synonyms


Early 16th century: from Latin initialis, from initium ‘beginning’, from inire ‘go in’, from in- ‘into’ + ire ‘go’.