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preliminary (adj.)

"preceding and leading up to something more important," 1660s, from French préliminaire and directly from Medieval Latin praeliminaris, from Latin prae "before" (see pre-) + limen (genitive liminis) "threshold" (see limit (n.)). A word that arose in reference to painstaking diplomatic negotiations to end the Thirty Years' War. Earliest attested form in English is preliminaries (n.) "things which lead up to or introduce following matter or events," 1650s.

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Definitions of preliminary from WordNet
1
preliminary (n.)
a minor match preceding the main event;
Synonyms: prelim
preliminary (n.)
something that serves as a preceding event or introduces what follows;
training is a necessary preliminary to employment
Synonyms: overture / prelude
2
preliminary (adj.)
denoting an action or event preceding or in preparation for something more important;
a preliminary investigation
From wordnet.princeton.edu