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a small portion of a food or drink served before or at the beginning of a meal to stimulate the desire to eat.
any small portion that stimulates a desire for more or that indicates more is to follow:
The first game was an appetizer to a great football season.
Contemporary Examples

A senior regime official warned several days ago: “What you are seeing is the appetizer: the main course is yet to come.”
Battered Syrian Rebels Cede Aleppo’s Salaheddin District to Assad Military Jamie Dettmer August 9, 2012

And that was just the appetizer portion of what was served up at CPAC.
CPAC: Come for the Crazy, Stay for the Party Michelle Cottle March 6, 2014

We were barely into the appetizer when he asked a fairly basic question—where did my family live?
Everyone at This Dinner Party Has Lost Someone Samantha Levine January 5, 2015

Perhaps you could exhibit some sauté skills in an appetizer course.
Culinary Kings-Turned TV Judges Cook Up Verdicts on Gordon Ramsay-Hosted MasterChef Daily Beast Promotions July 26, 2010

Picking at an appetizer veggie platter is a good option as well.
12 Thanksgiving Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work DailyBurn November 26, 2014

Historical Examples

Unfortunately, however, he had no mézé (appetizer) to offer, as is also the custom in the East.
Told in the Coffee House Cyrus Adler

It is not a drink or an appetizer, but a strictly medicinal preparation.
Treatise on the Diseases of Women Lydia E. Pinkham

This little work contains many valuable recipes showing how honey can be made useful medicinally and as an appetizer.
Prairie Farmer, Vol. 56: No. 4, January 26, 1884 Various

This is considered an appetizer for the proper meal, which no stranger must forget.
Peeps at many lands: Sweden William Liddle

“No, that would only serve as an appetizer,” answered David.
Grace Harlowe’s Plebe Year at High School Jessie Graham Flower

a small amount of food or drink taken to stimulate the appetite
any stimulating foretaste

“something taken to whet the appetite,” 1820, agent noun from appetize.


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