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preliminary (adj.)

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.), 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