Definitions

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

  • adj. Of, relating to, or occurring at the beginning; first: took the initial step toward peace.
  • adj. Designating the first letter or letters of a word.
  • n. The first letter of a proper name.
  • n. The first letter of each word of a person's full name considered as a unit: stationery monogrammed with her initials.
  • n. The first letter of a word.
  • n. A large, often highly decorated letter set at the beginning of a chapter, verse, or paragraph.
  • transitive v. To mark or sign with initials, especially for purposes of authorization or approval.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Chronologically first, early; of or pertaining to the beginning, cause or origin
  • adj. Spatially first, placed at the beginning, in the first position; especially said of the first letter of a word
  • n. The first letter of a word or a name.
  • n. In plural, the first letter of each word of a person's full name considered as a unit
  • n. A distinguished initial letter of a chapter or section of a document.
  • n. onset, part of a syllable that precedes the syllable nucleus in phonetics and phonology.
  • v. To sign one's initial(s), as an abbreviated signature.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to the beginning; marking the commencement; incipient; commencing.
  • adj. Placed at the beginning; standing at the head, as of a list or series.
  • n. The first letter of a word or a name.
  • transitive v. To put an initial to; to mark with an initial of initials.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or pertaining to the beginning; incipient: as, the initial step in a proceeding.
  • Placed at the beginning; standing at the head: as, the initial letter of a word, or of a chapter in a book.
  • n. The initial or first letter of a word; an initial letter.
  • n. The first letter of a book or writing, or of any division of it, distinguished from the body of the text by larger size or more ornamental character, or both.
  • n. In plain-song, a tone with which a melody may begin. In strict usage the initials for each mode are prescribed, and called absolute initials.
  • To put one's initial or initials to or on; sign or mark with initials: as, an initialed handkerchief; initialed paper.
  • n. In steam-engines, an abbreviation of initial pressure (which see).

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

  • adj. occurring at the beginning
  • v. mark with one's initials
  • n. the first letter of a word (especially a person's name)

Etymologies

Latin initiālis, from initium, beginning.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French, from Latin initialis ("of the beginning, incipient, initial"), from initium ("a going in, entrance, beginning"), from inire ("to go in, enter upon, begin"), from in ("in") + ire ("to go"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Investigators say they met with Shawn over the weekend in what they term initial talks, adding, the tough questions and complete debrief are still down the road.

    CNN Transcript Jan 15, 2007

  • Investigator say, they met with Shawn over the weekend in what they termed initial talks, adding, the tough questions and complete debrief are still down the road.

    CNN Transcript Jan 15, 2007

  • In addition, FEMA is sending what it calls initial response kits.

    CNN Transcript Aug 14, 2004

  • We may add that some have claimed to find the cross on Grecian monuments in the letter (chi), which, sometimes in conjunction with (rho), represented on coins the initial letters of the Greek word chrysoun, "gold", or other words indicative of the value of the coin, or the name of the coiner

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 4: Clandestinity-Diocesan Chancery

  • The FDA's alert is what they call their initial communication.

    ABC 4: Top Stories

  • GHL ACQUISITION CORP. is a newly formed blank check company organized for the purpose of effecting a merger capital stock exchange asset acquisition stock purchase reorganization or other similar business combination with one or more businesses or assets which they refer to as their initial business combination.

    GuruFocus Updates -

  • Johnny Ive may have had a part in initial conception or throwing out ideas, but I'm certain he didn't do the actual designing. dcfemella

    Toy Story 3 Trailer Easter Eggs Revealed | /Film

  • Economists expect private payrolls will increase by 85,000, a modest improvement from August's 67,000, as a decrease in initial jobless claims has suggested better labor-market conditions.

    Treasury Investors Are on Alert for 'Easing'

  • A recent decrease in initial jobless claims has suggested better labor-market conditions.

    Central Bank Actions Color Currency Outlook

  • The Denver-based Charter School Growth Fund, a nonprofit venture capital fund, recently announced it had secured $80 million in initial commitments with big donations coming from among others the Walton Family Foundation.

    Alan Singer: No Longer Waiting for "Superman"

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