Definition of provisional in English:



  • 1Arranged or existing for the present, possibly to be changed later.

    ‘a provisional government’
    ‘provisional bookings’
    • ‘Lots of top-notch breweries are set to be represented (although the beer list is provisional and subject to change).’
    • ‘Its findings are never true in an absolute now-and-forever sense; they are always provisional and can always be improved.’
    • ‘We have now made provisional bookings so we need names and deposits immediately to secure accommodation.’
    • ‘This explanation should be regarded as provisional at present, but it does suggest several important directions for future work.’
    • ‘‘Work is ongoing in processing these cases, with a view to issuing provisional entitlement statements as soon as possible’, she said.’
    • ‘In general practice in the United Kingdom, it is possible to make provisional decisions with patients and to review them.’
    • ‘Preliminary and provisional findings are presented, sometimes before peer review and without appropriate caveats, as proof of links between lethal diseases and familiar products or activities.’
    • ‘If the fee is acceptable to WD King then I hope that your commitments permit our provisional meeting in Bath next Monday to go ahead.’
    • ‘A spokesman for Bradford Council said a provisional arrangement had been made but it was never confirmed, so no-one attended.’
    • ‘Statehood, even if qualified as provisional or interim, confers a degree of sovereignty.’
    • ‘That report contains provisional proposals for the construction of major flood alleviation works within the Edgware Brook and Silk Stream catchments.’
    • ‘While my research into these matters is not yet complete, I would like to present my provisional conclusions.’
    • ‘Where uncertainty or dispute exists and it is necessary for a some factual determination to be made in order to comply with the brief, only tentative or provisional views will be expressed.’
    • ‘Much of the uncertainty surrounds the dizzying number of ways of qualifying for a provisional ballot, a sort of emergency ballot that allows voters to cast a vote at the polls, then have their eligibility checked after the election.’
    • ‘In the meantime, the provisional festival programme has thrown up some intriguing possibilities for a couple of good nights on the town.’
    • ‘‘There is nothing unusual about changes to provisional star-rating status prior to publication,’ he told MPs.’
    • ‘Blackwell ruled that persons who had requested, but not received their absentee ballots, would not be permitted to cast a provisional ballot.’
    • ‘It was a kind of empire built on very provisional and tentative things that might happen.’
    • ‘Workers established dual power, whereby there were workers' councils on the one hand and a provisional government using the existing state institutions on the other.’
    • ‘A provisional date of has been pencilled in for the York and District Cup final between Selby Warriors and York Groves.’
    interim, temporary, pro tem
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1British (of a driving licence) to be obtained before starting to learn to drive and upgraded to a full licence on passing a driving test.
      ‘Norman as yet had only a provisional licence’
      • ‘Her lawyer claimed that she had 30 driving lessons in the past, but had never passed her test and failed to renew her provisional driving licence after moving house.’
      • ‘Obviously, in order to enable a person who has been disqualified to pass a test, he would have to be able to drive and obtain a provisional licence to do so.’
      • ‘He also admitted to driving with faulty brakes and steering, and to driving illegally with a provisional licence, which he got following a previous disqualification.’
      • ‘Six drivers received fixed penalty tickets for offences ranging from driving unaccompanied on a provisional licence to driving while using a mobile phone.’
      • ‘The court also heard that on April 2 this year, although she only has a provisional driving licence, she drove unaccompanied along the M4.’
    2. 1.2 (of a postage stamp) put into circulation temporarily, usually owing to the unavailability of the definitive issue.
      • ‘Provisional stamps are usually made by overprinting, surcharging and occasionally by bisecting pre-existing stamps.’
      • ‘Some of the most coveted United States postage stamps are the crude provisional stamps used by early postmasters from 1845 to 1846 before the Stamp Act was legislated.’
  • 2Denoting the unofficial wings of the IRA and Sinn Fein established in 1969 and advocating terrorism.

    ‘the Provisional IRA’
    • ‘Police have linked the Provisional IRA to a large cache of arms recovered in Belfast over the weekend.’
    • ‘Even though the shooting took place in the staunchly republican west Belfast, security sources immediately ruled out any Provisional IRA involvement.’
    • ‘The Official IRA declared a ceasefire in the summer of 1972, and subsequently the term IRA has been used for the organisation that had developed from the 'Provisional' IRA.’
    • ‘Claimed to be a blow at ‘the colonial economic structure’ and the British ruling class, this Provisional bomb killed six people, most of them members of the crew of a bin-lorry.’


  • 1A provisional stamp.

    • ‘Dr. Maffeo was able to assemble a remarkable number of rare Postmaster's Provisionals, both United States and Confederate as well as two Inverted Jennys.’
    • ‘The New Orleans 5c Provisionals are the most common of the CSA provisional stamps and the ones most likely to be acquired by the average collector.’
  • 2A member of the Provisional wings of the IRA or Sinn Fein.

    • ‘The Officials were pulled into violence in the north, though were consistently less aggressive than the Provisionals.’
    • ‘When the Provisionals broke away from Official Sinn Féin / IRA in the early days of the Troubles they had little or no interest in politics.’
    • ‘It is not clear that the men arrested in Colombia, at least two of whom are convicted IRA bomb-makers, represent the Provisionals or, for that matter, the Real IRA.’
    • ‘The Provisionals were not ‘terrorists’, in that they were predominantly waging a campaign focused on British occupation forces.’
    • ‘Separately, Special Branch detectives said this weekend that Garda surveillance had resumed on alleged members of the Provisionals in Dublin, including people associated with Sinn Féin.’