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

The winner earns a provisional berth to this year’s $600,000 Champion of Champions. Houston Mitchell,, "Racing! Are you still on holiday today?," 5 July 2019 The blockage concerns a provisional package of appointments sketched out by the leaders of France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands on the fringes of the G20 summit in Osaka. Charlemagne | Brussels, The Economist, "The EU is struggling to agree on candidates for its biggest jobs," 1 July 2019 Canada’s took nearly four years for provisional implementation. Jeffrey T. Lewis, WSJ, "EU, Mercosur Deal Faces Hurdles on Two Continents," 30 June 2019 In 2017, the school received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association, which previously threatened to withhold the designation. Dan Singer, Dallas News, "Dallas' old city hall has been transformed inside for UNT Dallas' law school," 27 June 2019 Additionally, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing have each been placed on the provisional Olympic program. Kaelen Jones,, "Breakdancing Provisionally Added to 2024 Olympics Program," 25 June 2019 Macron told French reporters in 2018, acknowledging the provisional air that hangs over his Presidency. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, "Can Emmanuel Macron Stem the Populist Tide?," 24 June 2019 Kathy McSorley was appointed as a provisional board member to replace Dr. Paul Georgantas. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, "How they voted, June 16," 16 June 2019 An informational coffee for prospective provisional members will be held on Aug. 6. Anne Gelhaus, The Mercury News, "Los Gatos community briefs for the week of June 14," 14 June 2019

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

8 Jul 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

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