Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Prior to or preparing for the main matter, action, or business; introductory or prefatory.
  • n. Something that precedes, prepares for, or introduces the main matter, action, or business.
  • n. An academic test or examination that is preparatory to one that is longer, more complex, or more important.
  • n. Sports A contest to determine the finalists in a competition.
  • n. Sports An event that precedes the main event of a particular program, especially in boxing or wrestling.
  • n. Printing The front matter of a book. Often used in the plural.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. in preparation for the main matter; initial, introductory, preparatory
  • n. A preparation for a main matter; an introduction
  • n. Any of a series of sports events that determine the finalists
  • n. A relatively minor contest that precedes a major one, especially in boxing

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Introductory; previous; preceding the main discourse or business; prefatory
  • n. That which precedes the main discourse, work, design, or business; something introductory or preparatory

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Preceding and leading up to something more important; introductory; preparatory; prefatory.
  • n. Something which introduces or leads up to following matter or events; an introductory or preparatory statement, measure, action, etc.; a preface; a prelude.
  • n. plural In college use, tests in certain elementary subjects previous to the final examinations for entrance.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. denoting an action or event preceding or in preparation for something more important; designed to orient or acquaint with a situation before proceeding
  • n. a minor match preceding the main event
  • n. something that serves as a preceding event or introduces what follows

Etymologies

From New Latin praelīmināris : Latin prae-, pre- + Latin līmen, līmin-, threshold.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the French préliminaire or from the Modern Latin prælīmināris, formed from præ ("before") + līmen, līmin- ("threshold") + -āris (adjectival suffix); compare the Latin līmināris ("of or belonging to a threshold"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "This smells to high holy heaven, because when you look at the Illinois report, nowhere was the word preliminary ever used," Weiss said, noting that the fusion center - which is composed of Illinois state police, as well as representatives from the FBI and DHS - distributed the report to other critical infrastructure facilities in that state.

    Wired Top Stories

  • White House Press Secretary Tony Snow told reporters earlier this morning that there haven't been any run-throughs just yet, but certainly the president has had time to review what he called preliminary drafts.

    CNN Transcript Jan 8, 2007

  • FEMA has mobilized what they call preliminary disaster assessment teams, those who are going down to Florida from places like Georgia.

    CNN Transcript Feb 2, 2007

  • It looks like -- the FBI, they have what they call a preliminary inquiry open right now.

    CNN Transcript Oct 5, 2006

  • Certainly, if the charges are confirmed, there will have to be what we call preliminary issues discussed, but certainly it goes without saying that all those that are involved in the trial process must attend the client and accept instructions.

    CNN Transcript Jul 17, 2005

  • MISSIRI: Well, within the first 12 hours, actually, we launched what we call a preliminary appeal.

    CNN Transcript Dec 27, 2004

  • I articulated the same sentiment to a Ms Jessica Law, the CAFCASS reporter, who visited me at home for what she described as a preliminary interview.

    A Special Relationship

  • Well, after some nudging from members of Congress, most notably Senator Jay Rockefeller, the FBI is now conducting what they call a preliminary inquiry into the forged documents.

    CNN Transcript Jul 16, 2003

  • Announcing what it called preliminary results of the Aug. 17-27 census, the radio said the population in the last census 10 years ago was 10.4 million people, when the population growth rate was

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • This is only what they call preliminary overtures.

    This Freedom

Comments

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  • 1656 O. CROMWELL Let. 6 May in W. C. Abbott Writings & Speeches O. Cromwell (1947) IV. 154 There were some preliminaries to be performed by him before we would enter upon the whole body of a Treaty.

    July 28, 2008