Meaning of PRELIMINARY in English

I. pre ‧ lim ‧ i ‧ na ‧ ry 1 AC /prɪˈlɪmən ə ri, prɪˈlɪmɪn ə ri $ -neri/ BrE AmE adjective [only before noun]

[ Date: 1600-1700 ; Language: French ; Origin: préliminaire , from Medieval Latin praeliminaris , from Latin limen 'threshold' ]

happening before something that is more important, often in order to prepare for it:

the preliminary stages of the competition

a preliminary draft

preliminary to

The discussions were preliminary to preparing a policy paper.

II. preliminary 2 AC BrE AmE noun ( plural preliminaries ) [countable usually plural]

1 . something that is said or done first, to introduce or prepare for something else

preliminary to

Pilot studies are a useful preliminary to large research projects.

After the usual preliminaries, the chairman made his announcement.

2 . one of the games in the first part of a competition, when it is decided who will go on to the main competition:

Four teams will be eliminated in the preliminaries.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.