ini·​tial | \ i-ˈni-shəl How to pronounce initial (audio) \

Definition of initial

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : of or relating to the beginning : incipient his initial reaction
2 : placed at the beginning : first the initial word of the verse



Definition of initial (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : the first letter of a name
b initials plural : the first letter of each word in a full name found that their initials were identical
2 : a large letter beginning a text or a division or paragraph
3 : anlage, precursor specifically : a meristematic cell


initialed or initialled; initialing or initialling\ i-​ˈni-​sh(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce initial (audio) \

Definition of initial (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to affix an initial to
2 : to authenticate or give preliminary approval to by affixing the initials of an authorizing representative

Other Words from initial


initialness \ i-​ˈni-​shəl-​nəs How to pronounce initial (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for initial

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of initial in a Sentence

Adjective you've resolved my initial complaint, but now I have a new question Noun President Franklin D. Roosevelt's middle initial stood for “Delano.” She put her initials on each page of the contract. The initials F.D.R. stood for “Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” Verb She initialed each page of the contract.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Police had detained the victim during a traffic stop prior to the crash, according to the bureau's initial release, published Saturday. Abigail Adams, Peoplemag, 20 Sep. 2022 The initial report soon prompted a federal inspector general to probe the state’s conduct. Tony Romm, Washington Post, 16 Sep. 2022 Further details were not available in the initial report. Joan Rusek, cleveland, 16 Sep. 2022 Part of creating a true water-cooler event, too, is sweeping up the audience that missed the initial release, whether for a series or a film. David S. Cohen, Variety, 15 Sep. 2022 Confusion among 1980s test-screening audiences and studio meddling led to a disastrous initial release with a sleepy Harrison Ford voice-over that left no one happy. Alex Galbraith,, 14 Sep. 2022 That Saturday morning, Mr. Mueller gave President George W. Bush the FBI’s initial report on the attacks. Thomas J. Baker, WSJ, 14 Sep. 2022 Despite his status — self-determined or not — as a cultural pariah, especially from the 1970s onward, Godard would have a vast influence on films and filmmakers throughout the world in the decades following the initial release of Breathless. Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Sep. 2022 Mahlman was not listed on the team’s initial status report for the Washington State game but did not suit up. Jeff Potrykus, Journal Sentinel, 13 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The program manager for Ford, quoted in DefenseOne, tied the eventual AWE solution to the ship’s initial-operations-capable declaration. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 8 Apr. 2022 To receive a kit, participants should send an email telling their first name and first initial of their last name to Arkansas Online, 31 Jan. 2022 Thomas Chapman, an attorney for the city election board, said Dixon’s petition was actually dismissed because her middle initial was not included. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 7 Sep. 2022 Any avid reader-slash-Halloween lover will appreciate this skeleton bookmark that's personalized with their initial. Angela Belt, House Beautiful, 17 Aug. 2022 Choose from a Santa, a reindeer, a Christmas tree or a unicorn shape, then personalize it with an initial. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 16 Aug. 2022 This sentimental gift can be personalized on one or two sides, with a custom name, date, couple's initials, or just a single initial for a simple statement. Jamie Kravitz, Woman's Day, 10 Aug. 2022 Star Wars has a future precisely because of the initial recasting in the prequels. Mark Hughes, Forbes, 10 June 2022 Posting to her Instagram Story in November 2020, the actress casually debuted the new body art baring her daughter's first initial in a selfie. Giovana Gelhoren,, 5 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb According to Shah, she was told to initial next to each relevant statement as Bastos read them aloud. Gabrielle Chung,, 16 June 2021 Leaders of the three countries met in 1992 in San Antonio, Texas, to initial the agreement. David Luhnow, WSJ, 4 June 2021 Value of those tools was initially set at around $500 total and police noted that they had been initialed by the owner. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, 15 Apr. 2020 The agreement was initialed and signed by Tully in March, but was not filed until April 7, according to online court records. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, 17 Apr. 2020 Taylor was one of the first witnesses called Wednesday during the impeachment inquiry’s initial open hearing. USA TODAY, 15 Nov. 2019 About two weeks later, your boxes of ammo show up, each one initialed buy the loader who made them. Alex Robinson, Outdoor Life, 8 Jan. 2020 Rickmon Tuesday ruled that eight ballots were not properly initialed by election judges before giving them to voters. Alicia Fabbre,, 5 Nov. 2019 In 1995, Balkan leaders meeting in Dayton, Ohio, initialed a peace plan to end three and a-half years of ethnic fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina., 21 Nov. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'initial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of initial


1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for initial


Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French iniciel, from Latin initialis, from initium beginning, from inire to go into, from in- + ire to go — more at issue entry 1

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Time Traveler for initial

Time Traveler

The first known use of initial was in 1526

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Dictionary Entries Near initial

in isolation


initial coin offering

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Statistics for initial

Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Initial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for initial


ini·​tial | \ i-ˈni-shəl How to pronounce initial (audio) \

Kids Definition of initial

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the first letter of a name
2 : a large letter beginning a text or a paragraph



Kids Definition of initial (Entry 2 of 3)

: occurring at or marking the beginning an initial effort the initial word

Other Words from initial

initially \ -​shə-​lē \ adverb


initialed or initialled; initialing or initialling

Kids Definition of initial (Entry 3 of 3)

: to mark with the first letter or letters of a name

More from Merriam-Webster on initial

Nglish: Translation of initial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of initial for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about initial


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