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, 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

For the third consecutive year, the total number of births in Georgia went down, according to a provisional report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Jill Vejnoska, ajc, "Why Georgia keeps growing, despite decline in births," 8 June 2018 Italian newspapers are already on the hunt to discover which residence could be Ronaldo's future home, drafting provisional lists of the most expensive villas near Turin., "Modric Confident 'Best Player in the World' Ronaldo Will Stay at Real Madrid Despite Juventus Links," 8 July 2018 The Democratic nomination for the Montgomery county executive is coming down to absentee and provisional ballots, with two men — a wealthy businessman and a longtime progressive politician — locked in a close battle. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump’s mockery of the #MeToo movement underscores the GOP’s problem with women in 2018," 6 July 2018 The Harford elections office had 323 absentee and provisional ballots on the table for Friday’s count. David Anderson, The Aegis, "McComas, Wagner win tight Harford primary races after final ballot canvass," 6 July 2018 In a race that tight, Howard County Board of Elections Director Guy Mickley said the winner could likely be decided by absentee and provisional ballots, which won’t be counted until later. Kate Magill, Howard County Times, "Incumbent councilman holds razor-thin lead in Howard," 27 June 2018 Alexander did not have the exact numbers of absentee or provisional votes for District 1 as of Tuesday night. Jess Nocera, Laurel Leader, "Former county councilman is coming home, back to his District 1 seat," 27 June 2018 Following a final crisis meeting on Monday, after interior minister and CSU chairman Horst Seehofertendered his provisional resignation late Sunday evening, Merkel and the Bavarian achieved a breakthrough. Jefferson Chase, USA TODAY, "German government crisis: Chancellor Angela Merkel gets migrant compromise," 3 July 2018 However, requests for provisional measures like those requested by Qatar are dealt with quicker. Washington Post, "UAE offers its defense in Qatar lawsuit at UN high court," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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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Phrases Related to provisional

provisional licence

Statistics for provisional

Last Updated

16 Sep 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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