pro·​vi·​sion·​al | \ prə-ˈvizh-nəl How to pronounce provisional (audio) , -ˈvi-zhə-nᵊl \

Definition of provisional

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: serving for the time being : temporary a provisional government



Definition of provisional (Entry 2 of 2)

: a postage stamp for use until a regular issue appears — compare definitive

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Other Words from provisional


provisionally adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for provisional

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of provisional in a Sentence

Adjective The government has given provisional approval for the use of the new drug. will form a provisional government until a new leader can be elected
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The agency reported 3,605,201 births in 2020, down from 3,747,540 during the year prior, based on provisional data from more than 99% of birth certificates issued during the year. Kate Smith, CBS News, "Births fall to 42-year low in U.S., new CDC data shows," 5 May 2021 The new reports are based on provisional data, which includes more than 99% of birth certificates issued last year. Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, "We're starting to see how the pandemic affected births in the US," 5 May 2021 Out-of-town births among New York City residents peaked in April at 10.2% and in May at 10.3% -- respective increases of 70% and 66% from 2019, according to provisional birth certificate data shared in a separate report published Wednesday. Morgan Winsor, ABC News, "US birth and fertility rates drop to record lows in 2020, CDC says," 5 May 2021 Becker has spoken out against several of the law’s restrictions, including its limitations on drop boxes, the ban on provisional ballots cast before 5 p.m. and criminalizing non-poll workers handing out food and water to voters in line. Sanya Mansoor, Time, "Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger Defends Controversial Election Law," 26 Apr. 2021 People 65 and older make up 17.7% of Michigan’s population, and accounted for 83% of Michigan COVID-19 deaths, according to provisional data from the CDC. Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press, "A GOP 'report card' on Whitmer’s pandemic response has gone viral. Here are the facts.," 9 Apr. 2021 The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 was the underlying or contributing cause of 377,883 deaths in the U.S. last year, according to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System, which collects and reports provisional annual mortality data. al, "COVID was America’s third leading cause of death in 2020," 1 Apr. 2021 The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 was the underlying or contributing cause of 377,883 deaths in the U.S. last year, according to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System, which collects and reports provisional annual mortality data., "COVID-19 was third-leading cause of US deaths in 2020, CDC says," 31 Mar. 2021 More than 115,300 people died in Michigan last year, up from about 97,800 the year before, according to an Associated Press analysis of provisional data kept by the state’s vital records division. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "COVID-19 scams, Big Easy buzz, nurses protest: News from around our 50 states," 12 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Correll read the official election results, which have been certified following Election Day Nov. 5 and the Nov. 7 canvass of absentee and provisional ballots; 1,782 ballots were cast, including 10 absentee and 12 provisionals. David Anderson,, "Re-elected Aberdeen Mayor McGrady ready to ‘rock and roll into the future’ with new, returning City Council members," 13 Nov. 2019 His provisional sailed left, too, into the deep rough. Los Angeles Times, "J.B. Holmes takes British Open lead with Brooks Koepka lurking," 18 July 2019 Election Day in this year’s statewide Democratic and Republican primary election was June 26, followed by an absentee ballot canvass June 28, a provisional ballot canvass Thursday and the final count of absentee and provisionals Friday. David Anderson, The Aegis, "McComas, Wagner win tight Harford primary races after final ballot canvass," 6 July 2018 The Board of Elections, sitting as the Board of Canvassers, accepted 313, including 274 absentees and 39 provisionals. David Anderson, The Aegis, "McComas, Wagner win tight Harford primary races after final ballot canvass," 6 July 2018 There’s going to be a paper recount of all the votes from early voting, election day, absentees and provisionals. Pamela Wood,, "Brochin asks for full manual recount in Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive," 10 July 2018 McComas picked up five more votes in the Republican race for District 34B, while Tilley earned six provisionals. David Anderson, The Aegis, "Leaders in 2018 Harford races remain there after provisional ballot canvass Thurs.," 5 July 2018 Welcomed were 2018 spring provisionals Jennifer Bankston, Maggie Bopp, Megan Butler, Lauren Duncan, Jillian Gutierrez, Misty Jenkins, Danielle Looper and Amanda Toombs-Couvillon. Elizabeth Moore,, "North Shore Notables: Junior League of Covington honors members, introduces new board," 27 May 2018 Concordia's list of NCAA Division II provisional qualifiers grows. Ken Goe,, "Might the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials return to Hayward Field after all? Oregon track & field rundown," 9 Apr. 2018

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

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First Known Use of provisional


1601, in the meaning defined above


1886, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for provisional

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The first known use of provisional was in 1601

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Statistics for provisional

Last Updated

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Provisional.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for provisional



English Language Learners Definition of provisional

: existing or accepted for the present time but likely to be changed


pro·​vi·​sion·​al | \ prə-ˈvi-zhə-nəl How to pronounce provisional (audio) \

Legal Definition of provisional

1 : provided for a temporary need : suitable or acceptable in the existing situation but subject to change or nullification a provisional government provisional custody of a minor
2 : of, relating to, or being temporary judicial acts or proceedings (as of attachment, injunction, or sequestration) allowed before final judgment to protect the interests of one or more parties to an action a provisional remedy

Other Words from provisional

provisionally adverb

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