Meaning of “initial” in the English Dictionary

"initial" in British English

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initialadjective [ before noun ]

uk /ɪˈnɪʃ.əl/ us /ɪˈnɪʃ.əl/

B2 of or at the beginning:

My initial surprise was soon replaced by delight.
Initial reports say that seven people have died, though this has not yet been confirmed.

More examples

  • The initial earthquake was followed by a series of aftershocks.
  • The doctor has made an initial diagnosis, but there'll be an additional examination by a specialist.
  • The project is only in the initial phase as yet, but it's looking quite promising.
  • As the plot unfolds, you gradually realize that all your initial assumptions were wrong.
  • The final technical report into the accident reinforces the findings of initial investigations.

initialnoun [ C usually plural ]

uk /ɪˈnɪʃ.əl/ us /ɪˈnɪʃ.əl/

B1 the first letter of a name, especially when used to represent a name:

He wrote his initials, P.M.R., at the bottom of the page.
Paul M. Reynolds refused to say what the initial "M" stood for.
They carved their initials into a tree.

More examples

  • His initials were engraved on the back of his watch.
  • Doesn't it cause problems, having the same initials as your father?
  • She always includes her middle initial in her signature.
  • There's an 'S. Smith' on the list, but you and Simon share the same initial, so I'm not sure who they mean.
  • The author C. S. Lewis is better known by his initials than by his full name, Clive Staples Lewis.

initialverb [ T ]

uk /ɪˈnɪʃ.əl/ us /ɪˈnɪʃ.əl/ -ll- or US usually -l-

(Definition of “initial” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"initial" in American English

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initialadjective [ not gradable ]

us /ɪˈnɪʃ·əl/

initial adjective [ not gradable ] (BEGINNING)

of or at the beginning; first:

She failed her driving test on the initial try, but passed the next time.
The president’s initial popularity soon disappeared.
adverb [ not gradable ] us /ɪˈnɪʃ·ə·li/

The ceremony, initially planned for this month, was postponed.

initialnoun [ C ]

us /ɪˈnɪʃ·əl/

initial noun [ C ] (FIRST LETTER)

the first letter of a name, esp. when used to represent a name

Your initials are the first letters of each of your names:

They will put your initials on the luggage for another $15.

initialverb [ T ]

us /ɪˈnɪʃ·əl/

initial verb [ T ] (WRITE FIRST LETTERS)

to write your initials on something:

Please initial each document.

(Definition of “initial” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"initial" in Business English

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initialadjective [ before noun ]

uk /ɪˈnɪʃəl/ us

happening at the beginning:

initial estimate/forecast Economists had expected GDP growth to be revised upwards from last month's initial estimate of 0.6%.
initial charge/cost/fee The fund has an initial charge of 5.25%.
Investors may not get back the full value of their initial investment.

initialverb [ T ]

uk /ɪˈnɪʃəl/ us initialling or US usually initialing, initialled or US usually initialed

to write the first letters of each of your names on an official document to show that you have read it and agree with it:

Initial and date each page of the contract.

to discuss and agree to an arrangement with another organization, country, etc.:

The two nations used the summit to initial a deal on energy cooperation.


uk /ɪˈnɪʃəl/ us
initials [ plural ]

the first letter of each of your names:

He was dismissed for forging his manager's initials on the invoices.

one of the letters by which an organization may be known, which are usually the first letters of each of the words in its name:

The insurance giant AIG's initials stand for American International Group.

(Definition of “initial” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)