Prior to or preparing for the main matter, action, or business; introductory or prefatory. Something that precedes, prepares for, or introduces the main matter, action, or business. An academic test or examination that is preparatory to one that is longer, more complex, or more important. Sports A contest to determine the finalists in a competition. Sports An event that precedes the main event of a particular program, especially in boxing or wrestling. Printing The front matter of a book. Often used in the plural.