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

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

Lobbying against the bill by internet giants was said to be so intense that even after EU members gave their provisional support, passage wasn’t viewed as a sure thing Tuesday. Raf Casert, The Seattle Times, "EU parliament backs copyright bill targeting US tech giants," 27 Mar. 2019 First, Paltrow sounds a lot like a certain president here: truth is provisional, and there are no real facts. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Gwyneth Paltrow split with Condé Nast because they wanted her to use a fact checker," 26 July 2018 About 471,500 California babies were born in 2017, down by 17,000, or 3 percent, from 2016, according to the CDC data, which is provisional. Phillip Reese, sacbee, "California birth rate falls again to record low | The Sacramento Bee," 17 May 2018 While Julie and her friend Zander (Ian Saint-Germain) hide out in her room, watching horror movies on his laptop and innocently flirting, all escapism is only provisional. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘This Flat Earth’ Traces Childhood Fears No Parent Can Allay," 9 Apr. 2018 Judge Margo Brodie already had ruled that the plaintiff required a mandatory injunction, which went above and beyond the restoration of the status quo (the NASL’s D2 status was provisional). Brian Straus,, "NASL Cancels 2018 Season Days After Court Denies Injunction Appeal," 27 Feb. 2018 However Michael elected not to ascend the throne and after a few years under a provisional government, Russia would become part of the USSR in 1922. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Queen Victoria's Descendants Still Reign Over Europe," 17 Feb. 2019 Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets to demand Mr. Maduro’s resignation, and support Mr. Guaidó, who was last week named by the assembly as provisional president. David Luhnow, WSJ, "Venezuela’s Military Backs Maduro," 24 Jan. 2019 The key, in journalism as in any truth-seeking pursuit, is to try your best to keep all your beliefs and conclusions at arm’s length, at least somewhat provisional. David Roberts, Vox, "My advice for aspiring explainer journalists," 9 Dec. 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

1 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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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Comments on provisional

What made you want to look up provisional? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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