Definition of preliminary in US English:



  • Denoting an action or event preceding or done in preparation for something fuller or more important.

    ‘the discussions were seen as preliminary to the policy paper’
    ‘preliminary talks’
    • ‘The trial is still in preliminary stages, but the projects scientists are optimistic.’
    • ‘At that time, the Child Support Guidelines were not yet in force but preliminary drafts were available.’
    • ‘A preliminary design has been prepared and is included in the safer routes to schools report to the county council.’
    • ‘The news comes as the inquiry prepares to hold two preliminary meetings in York next month to discuss the format and conduct of the hearings.’
    • ‘Before a trial starts, preliminary data should therefore support the study hypothesis.’
    • ‘Memos also served as preliminary drafts of the results and discussion sections of this paper.’
    • ‘Up to 100 preliminary experiments were needed to obtain acceptable resolution.’
    • ‘The company has agreed to prepare preliminary proposals based on feedback received at the workshop and exhibition.’
    • ‘Feeling satisfied with this preliminary exploration of the market, I went back to my room.’
    • ‘The numbers from these tests are still very preliminary and are mostly being kept under wraps.’
    • ‘There are several very important reasons for this preliminary arm action.’
    • ‘These laws lead to arbitrary arrests and detentions for long periods without any preliminary trial.’
    • ‘Harsh northern conditions demand careful and preliminary preparation of personnel.’
    • ‘He added he believed the information he held was enough for the initiation of preliminary investigations.’
    • ‘During this time, they would prepare gravestones and do preliminary carving.’
    • ‘The preparation of the preliminary report by Tobin Consultants will take approximately six months to complete.’
    • ‘It was announced that last week's paper was only a preliminary draft.’
    preparatory, introductory, initial, opening, prefatory, prior, preceding, lead-in, initiatory, precursory
    in preparation for, before, in advance of, prior to, ahead of, preparatory to
    qualifying, eliminating
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nounPlural preliminaries

  • 1An action or event preceding or preparing for something fuller or more important.

    ‘the bombardment was resumed as a preliminary to an infantry attack’
    • ‘He had no sooner set about the preliminaries - the getting of suitable marble for his work - than he began to quarrel with the men who were to hew it.’
    • ‘After the written preliminary, the six teams which qualified appeared on stage for the finals.’
    • ‘Some account of this earlier observation is therefore a necessary preliminary to the main investigation.’
    • ‘This long march requires many small steps and wide-ranging preliminaries in confidence rebuilding.’
    prelude, preparation, preliminary measure, preparatory measure, preliminary action, overture, groundwork, first round
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    1. 1.1preliminaries Business or talk, especially of a formulaic or polite nature, taking place before an action or event.
      ‘she began speaking, without preliminaries’
      • ‘To return to your Honour the Chief Justice, the idea is that these preliminaries to business will be completed.’
      • ‘She couldn't wait to tell the usual gang gathered for dinner at Mrs. J's, waiting impatiently until the ritual conversational preliminaries eventually played out.’
      • ‘When two minds are focused on a problem, and look at the problem with similar prejudices of what is correct and what is not, conversations need no preliminaries.’
      • ‘The preliminaries were polite, but from the outset it was clear that both men were in Braehead to put on a show.’
      introduction, preamble, opening, opening remarks, prefatory remarks, formalities
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    2. 1.2 A preliminary round in a sporting competition.
      • ‘While the preliminary was full of excitement, the final was enthralling.’
      • ‘We all knew that Australia were the favourites and in the preliminaries only England made them sweat although they occasionally had to make a special effort.’
      • ‘Three teams were eliminated in the preliminaries leaving Arrows, Buffaloes, Eagles and City of Lusaka to qualify to the semi-finals’
      • ‘Mbazima and Mwansa qualified to the finals after emerging first in a round-robin format during preliminaries of the three day tournament.’
      • ‘He was signed by Efes Istanbul in Turkey and had a terrific showing in leading underdog Latvia out of the preliminaries of the European Championships.’
      • ‘The tournament saw some 32 teams competing in the preliminaries.’
    3. 1.3preliminaries The prelims or front matter of a book.
      front matter, introductory material, preliminary material, prefatory material, forward matter, introduction, foreword, preface, preamble
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  • preliminary to

    • Preparatory to; in advance of.

      • ‘The archaeological excavation is a necessary preliminary to that work, and pipe laying cannot take place until the archaeology has been completed.’
      • ‘This was clearly preliminary to a renewed attempt to expand into Scotland, and by AD 142-3 southern Scotland was reoccupied by the Roman forces.’
      • ‘The Miss Universe Zambia is the official preliminary to the Miss Universe pageant held every year.’
      • ‘More dramatically, we looked over the house that ‘Venice in Peril’ have had surveyed as a preliminary to the city repairing it and dividing it up.’
      • ‘It's merely a preliminary to the long and painful efforts to undo the damage, which have no guarantee of success.’
      in preparation for, before, in advance of, prior to, ahead of, preparatory to
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Mid 17th century: from modern Latin praeliminaris or French préliminaire, from Latin prae ‘before’ + limen, limin- ‘threshold’.