1. Of, relating to, or occurring at the beginning; first: took the initial step toward peace.
2. Designating the first letter or letters of a word.
a. The first letter of a proper name.
b. initials The first letter of each word of a person's full name considered as a unit: stationery monogrammed with her initials.
2. The first letter of a word.
3. A large, often highly decorated letter set at the beginning of a chapter, verse, or paragraph.
tr.v. in·i·tialed, in·i·tial·ing, in·i·tials also in·i·tialled or in·i·tial·ling
To mark or sign with initials, especially for purposes of authorization or approval.
[Latin initiālis, from initium, beginning; see ei- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)initial
detail of an illuminated manuscript
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus