pro·​vi·​sion·​al | \prə-ˈvizh-nəl, -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

ad interim, impermanent, interim, provisionary, provisory, short-term, temporary

Antonyms: Adjective

long-term, permanent

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Examples of provisional in a Sentence


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

There are also additional votes from military and overseas ballots, and there continues to be confusion over provisional ballots, including paper ballots cast at polling places where machines were not functioning. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Stacey Abrams’s Campaign Says Recount or Runoff Is Possible—If All Georgia Votes Are Actually Counted—While Andrew Gillum’s Race Enters Recount Range in Florida," 8 Nov. 2018 The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that 3,435 provisional ballots and 5,048 absentee ballots will be counted Aug. 18, ahead of an Aug. 24 deadline. Edmund Demarche, Fox News, "Hotly contested Ohio race gets closer after hundreds of uncounted votes are found," 2 Oct. 2018 Yet business leaders who recall the French aphorism that nothing lasts like the provisional will be reassured by the white paper. The Economist, "Hard Brexit is unravelling," 28 June 2018 Another eight trademarks received the provisional okay from Beijing; they’ll be finalized in three months if no objections arise during the comment period. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "The Ivanka Trump Brand Just Won a Boatload of New Trademarks in China," 29 May 2018 Prosperous and progressive Oregon had a 5.1 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending April 3, according to provisional figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NBC News, "Opioids in Oregon: It's not just a plague in the Rust Belt states," 7 May 2018 Frye ordered Jeff Lipps, Releaf's attorney, to amend his complaint to sue each of the 12 winners of provisional grow licenses. Laura Hancock,, "Judge in Ohio medical marijuana grower case concerned about state's pace," 20 Apr. 2018 The cases mainly concern the counting of absentee and provisional ballots. Kate Brumback, The Seattle Times, "Georgia senator decries her arrest at vote-count protest," 14 Nov. 2018 Tampering with voter registration data in advance of the election could cause voters to be forced to cast provisional ballots or exclude them from voting entirely. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "The ugly truth about voting security: States won’t fix it," 6 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Provisionals are immersed into their chapter’s projects, fundraising initiatives, and the community as a whole. Southern Living, "Secrets of the Southern Junior Leagues," 1 May 2017

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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Statistics for provisional

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for provisional

The first known use of provisional was in 1601

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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 \

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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Comments on provisional

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a knickknack or trinket

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