from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Prior to or preparing for the main matter, action, or business; introductory or prefatory.
  • noun Something that precedes another item of a similar kind, especially.
  • noun A contest to determine the finalists in a competition.
  • noun An event that precedes the main event, especially in boxing or wrestling.
  • noun An academic examination taken before a longer, more complex, or more important examination.
  • noun An introductory remark made before a speech, presentation, or meeting.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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


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

[From New Latin praelīmināris : Latin prae-, pre- + Latin līmen, līmin-, threshold.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").


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  • "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 Kim Zetter 2011

  • 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 2007

  • 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 2007

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

    CNN Transcript Oct 5, 2006 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 2005

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

    CNN Transcript Dec 27, 2004 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 Douglas Kennedy 2003

  • 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 2003

  • 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 Douglas Kennedy 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 2002


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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