Definition of initial in English:



  • 1[attributive] Existing or occurring at the beginning.

    ‘our initial impression was favorable’
    • ‘And yes, Jesus was poor, but not homeless, which was the entire point I was trying to make in my initial letter.’
    • ‘You'll have to excuse my rather bland choice of words in the initial sentence.’
    • ‘When she caught word about the initial incident, she ordered all books and reading material banned and burned.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They want to see if the initial, favorable impression was justified.’
    • ‘Their initial exchange of letters set the tone for their relationship as student and mentor.’
    • ‘This was its first response to my initial letter, rather than the culmination of a lengthy and bitter exchange!’
    • ‘The initial list contained 50 words illustrating 20 presumed features of written Spanish.’
    • ‘Aside from her initial words, she took no notice of the man.’
    • ‘His initial letter in 1974 was because there had been another man or three other men arrested for the Otero murders.’
    • ‘There were 1,703 initial claims by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 9 from the preceding week.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was much more to do with the tone of the letter than the initial phrase.’
    • ‘This initial report outlines the investigation's key lines of inquiry and the next steps planned as of 7 August 2007.’
    • ‘I'm nearly at the 10,000 words required for the initial pitch.’
    • ‘Frankly, the initial material and words of advice in Wine Fundamentals are absolutely superb and sensible.’
    beginning, opening, commencing, starting, inceptive, embryonic, fledgling
    first, early, earliest, prime, primary
    preliminary, elementary, foundational, preparatory, rudimentary
    introductory, inaugural, incipient, inchoate
    pilot, test, trial
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of a letter) at the beginning of a word.
      • ‘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 present study examined the role of the convention in German to capitalize the initial letters of nouns.’
      • ‘And for certain names I used the same initial letter and changed the name; for some I just completely switched it.’
      • ‘The initial letter in his surname is silent.’
      • ‘The utilization of only the initial letters of these names neutralizes this original significance.’
      • ‘The second scheme uses the first name and the initial letter of the last name.’
      • ‘The names of the patients had the same initial letter while the hospital numbers differed by just one digit.’
      • ‘Do not confuse this use of red with the practice of using red ink for each initial letter of God, Christos or Iesus.’
      • ‘The announcement means that no more footwear will be made in the town that gave its initial letter to the K Shoes brand.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In its orthography, German gives an initial capital letter to its nouns, a practice common in English until the mid eighteenth century.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Without him Bolton went on to lose 2-0 to Walsall, who share an initial letter with Wembley but little else.’
      • ‘To encrypt the initial letter P we use the key letter beneath it which, in this case, is f.’
      • ‘This simple activity helps students focus on initial letters in words in both languages.’
      • ‘In PDF files particularly, initial letters may be separated from the rest of the word.’
      • ‘In German, as in English, the initial letter of the first word in a sentence is always capitalized.’
      • ‘Dyslexics may correctly get the initial letters and ‘rush’ the rest incorrectly.’


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

    ‘they carved their initials into the tree trunk’
    • ‘Customize by choosing any combination of letters: your initials, a nickname, any word you think describes you.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We have only the initials for the Christian names of the men in the back row who are dressed in their ordinary clothes.’
    • ‘If you can remember a few sets of initials, the full names follow automatically.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ever-present heart and anchor, symbols of hope and trust, were generally flanked by initials or sometimes even names.’
    • ‘If the kerchief carried the lady's initials or name, it was purposely exhibited before the rival lover.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He no longer uses his full name, just his initials.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The name and initials of the interviewed person have been changed for security reasons.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And I thought for a minute that the initials of my name were just unlucky.’
    • ‘Their names were initials until the public knew what the abbreviations stood for.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It would have been helpful to have each man's name or initials before each letter.’
    • ‘Bach concluded all his works with the letters AMDG - the initials of the Latin words meaning ‘To the greater glory of God’.’
    • ‘She also matched initials to the names of more than a half-dozen workers.’
    initial letter, beginning letter
    abbreviation, acronym, initialism
    View synonyms


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

    • ‘Kane dated and signed the notes, and also initialed any changes to them.’
    • ‘This document, which he signed and initialed, reads as follows.’
    • ‘Jones read over and initialled or signed the document.’
    • ‘Indeed, it was this assumption which led him to initial and/or sign the documents without considering them in any detail.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The space for the client to initial had been left blank, and remained blank.’
    • ‘The pharmacist noticed the prescription for the dose had been altered from 50 to 100 microgrammes, and the alteration had not been initialled.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Wondering whether he should have held the record company more to ransom, he initialled and signed both copies and retained one for himself.’
    • ‘Please initial any alterations you make thereafter signing the statement of truth at the end.’
    • ‘And by the same token I used that pen to initial my response to the offer that subsequently fell through.’
    • ‘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 Case Manager initialled the remaining one herself after having a meeting with ‘an undisclosed person’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So I just crossed out that section, initialed it, and signed the contract.’
    • ‘After the notification, the department will initial the sheet.’
    • ‘Two more clerks came through, checking our IDs and initialing our blue application forms again.’
    • ‘They both initialled the proposal form and they both signed the cheques for the premiums.’
    put one's initials on, sign, countersign, autograph, endorse, put one's mark on, inscribe, superscribe, witness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Agree to or ratify (a treaty or contract) by signing it.
      • ‘On 23 January 1973 Kissinger and the chief North Vietnamese negotiator, Le Duc Tho, initialled a cease-fire agreement in Paris.’
      • ‘East Timor and Australia initialed Thursday a framework agreement on revenue-sharing for oil in the Timor Gap between the two countries.’
      • ‘Russia has still not signed the pipeline memorandum, which was initialled by Bulgaria and Greece in April, Dnevnik daily reported.’
      • ‘On 30 April 1803, American and French negotiators initialed agreements transferring the Louisiana territory to the United States in exchange for $11,250,000.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In Kabul, the Afghan administration and Britain initialled an agreement on deployment of about 4,500 foreign peacekeeping troops.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And eight of the current squad were signed to initial contracts worth less than $5,000.’
      • ‘While the gentle refrain of the Nisga'a peace song filled the room, the final agreement was initialed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The EU dropped a humiliating demand that Turkey initial the pact immediately on December 17.’
      • ‘The main components of the settlement package were agreed in February 2001, and a deed of settlement was initialled by negotiators in October 2002.’
      • ‘Canada, British Columbia and the Nisga'a Tribal Council initialed the final agreement earlier this summer.’
      • ‘Three weeks of negotiations resulted in the three presidents initialing the Dayton peace agreements on 21 November.’
      • ‘The two companies initialled a memorandum of understanding on Saturday which will be signed later this month in Moscow.’
      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.