Preliminary means something that comes before something else. If you want to run in the race, you have to place in the top third of the preliminary round. It can also mean "early" — the preliminary results are in, and you've won!

Preliminary is often used euphemistically, as in, "There are a few preliminaries we'll need to take care of before you start your new job. First, sign over all your worldly goods to the company, then write a letter to your family explaining that you will never see them again. All set?"

Definitions of preliminary

adj denoting an action or event preceding or in preparation for something more important; designed to orient or acquaint with a situation before proceeding

“a preliminary investigation”
explorative, exploratory
serving in or intended for exploration or discovery

n something that serves as a preceding event or introduces what follows

“training is a necessary preliminary to employment”
overture, prelude
Type of:
inception, origin, origination
an event that is a beginning; a first part or stage of subsequent events

n a minor match preceding the main event

Type of:
athletic competition, athletic contest, athletics
a contest between athletes

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