Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “preliminary”


adjective [not gradable]    /prɪˈlɪm·əˌner·i/
coming before a more important action or event, esp. introducing or preparing for it: preliminary talks a preliminary investigation The preliminary rounds of negotiation went well. preliminary    /prɪˈlɪm·əˌner·i/ noun [C usually pl] Her time of 12:32 took four seconds off the mark she set in Friday’s preliminaries.
(Definition of preliminary adjective from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of preliminary

Definitions of “preliminary” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day


showing a wish to help or bring advantages to others, even if it results in disadvantage for yourself

Word of the Day


Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More