1 of 3


ini·​tial i-ˈni-shəl How to pronounce initial (audio)
: of or relating to the beginning : incipient
his initial reaction
: placed at the beginning : first
the initial word of the verse
initialness noun


2 of 3


: the first letter of a name
initials plural : the first letter of each word in a full name
found that their initials were identical
: a large letter beginning a text or a division or paragraph
: anlage, precursor
specifically : a meristematic cell


3 of 3


initialed or initialled; initialing or initialling i-ˈni-sh(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce initial (audio)

transitive verb

: to affix an initial to
: to authenticate or give preliminary approval to by affixing the initials of an authorizing representative

Example Sentences

Adjective you've resolved my initial complaint, but now I have a new question Noun President Franklin D. Roosevelt's middle initial stood for “Delano.” She put her initials on each page of the contract. The initials F.D.R. stood for “Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” Verb She initialed each page of the contract.
Recent Examples on the Web
The initial investigation by the Naperville Traffic Unit shows that Namen was attempting to cross Brom Drive at Martin Avenue when he was hit by a Chevrolet SUV driven by a 48-year-old Romeoville man, according to authorities. Suzanne Baker, Chicago Tribune, 2 Feb. 2023 Like most Kenya Barris productions, You People encourages Internet discourse, which has followed the film since its initial release. Andrea Cuttler, Harper's BAZAAR, 1 Feb. 2023 The exchange is a reference to the Left Behind DLC (downloadable content) from The Last of Us that arrived after the game's initial release. Nick Romano,, 31 Jan. 2023 According to an initial news release from the Metropolitan Police Department, officers responded to a report of a shooting just before 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7. Kerry Breen, CBS News, 31 Jan. 2023 Van Turner, the president of the Memphis NAACP said of the initial news release. Justine Mcdaniel,, 29 Jan. 2023 The company took down the JR-15’s website, deleted its initial news release and went into virtual hibernation. Andrea Salcedo, Washington Post, 29 Jan. 2023 In the year since All of Us Are Dead’s initial release, the theme of a society failing its young people has only become more resonant — in Korea, in the U.S. and around the world. Kayti Burt, Rolling Stone, 28 Jan. 2023 The fresh approach to releasing the racket shows a stark difference from the brand's most recent releases, updates to key franchises the Blade, Pro Staff and Ultra and the initial 2019 release of the Clash. Tim Newcomb, Forbes, 27 Jan. 2023
On top of the initial proposed $130 billion state budget, legislators have an additional $50 billion of taxpayer money to play with — a historic amount of unencumbered money available for state spending that does not include the rainy day fund. Dallas News, 30 Jan. 2023 For those with a double surname, the first initial of each last name with a bar or a bullet between them to signify hyphenation is a popular choice. Maggie Gillette, Better Homes & Gardens, 27 Dec. 2022 This plush, fleece bathrobe comes with personalization, such as your first initial, your first name or a monogram. Emma Seymour, Good Housekeeping, 2 Nov. 2022 At Harlem Hops craft beer bar in New York, server and beer influencer Sonia B., who spoke on the condition that only her last initial be used, is passionate about the experience of bringing this new style of beer into drinkers’ lives. Ruvani De Silva, Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2022 Add her initial at no extra cost for a personal touch. Cailey Lindberg, Good Housekeeping, 19 Oct. 2022 Charcuterie board connoisseurs will flip for this hardwood serving board, which includes a ceramic bowl and four cheese tools, as well as a laser engraving of your recipient's initial. Corinne Sullivan, Woman's Day, 16 Dec. 2022 Its tiled design will add some flair to any kitchen, plus it can be personalized with their first initial. Cailey Lindberg, Good Housekeeping, 27 Oct. 2022 There are four of these witnesses in this case, identified by their first name and initial. Eric Levenson, CNN, 27 Oct. 2022
Simply use a zester to initial a lime wedge for each guest's drink. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 24 Oct. 2022 According to Shah, she was told to initial next to each relevant statement as Bastos read them aloud. Gabrielle Chung,, 16 June 2021 Leaders of the three countries met in 1992 in San Antonio, Texas, to initial the agreement. David Luhnow, WSJ, 4 June 2021 Value of those tools was initially set at around $500 total and police noted that they had been initialed by the owner. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, 15 Apr. 2020 The agreement was initialed and signed by Tully in March, but was not filed until April 7, according to online court records. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, 17 Apr. 2020 Taylor was one of the first witnesses called Wednesday during the impeachment inquiry’s initial open hearing. USA TODAY, 15 Nov. 2019 About two weeks later, your boxes of ammo show up, each one initialed buy the loader who made them. Alex Robinson, Outdoor Life, 8 Jan. 2020 Rickmon Tuesday ruled that eight ballots were not properly initialed by election judges before giving them to voters. Alicia Fabbre,, 5 Nov. 2019 See More

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

Word History



Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French iniciel, from Latin initialis, from initium beginning, from inire to go into, from in- + ire to go — more at issue entry 1

First Known Use


1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of initial was in 1526

Dictionary Entries Near initial

Cite this Entry

“Initial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 3 adjective
ini·​tial in-ˈish-əl How to pronounce initial (audio)
: of, relating to, or existing at the beginning : earliest
initial stages of a disease
: placed or standing at the beginning : first
the initial letter of a word
initially adverb


2 of 3 noun
: a first letter of a name
: a large letter beginning a text or paragraph


3 of 3 verb
initialed or initialled; initialing or initialling -ˈish-(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce initial (audio)
: to mark with initials or an initial
initial a handkerchief

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